Sources: McInnis Cement, Montreal; Lafarge North America, Chicago; CP staff
Responding to Lafarge North America charges of “enormous subsidies” behind a $1 billion greenfield cement plant and marine terminal in eastern Quebec, McInnis Cement contends: “The project has no subsidies [and] is being financed based on the merits of the business, with all debt and equity investors involved doing so on a commercial basis alone.”
McInnis Cement commenced spring 2014 construction of a 2.2 million-ton-per-year plant and terminal in Port-Daniel-Gascons, Quebec, targeting mid-2016 production. Its business plan centers on expedited, deep-water vessel- or barge-based delivery of portland cement to captive terminals serving Great Lakes and Atlantic seaboard markets in the U.S. and Canada, with additional reach to Atlantic basin destinations south. Work at the site, whose pristine limestone deposit ensures a low-alkali cement, proceeded after financing was secured in February. Lafarge NA and other plant opponents have waged a campaign on both sides of the U.S.–Canada border since, and appealed especially to state and federal lawmakers with concerns over prospective cement imports’ effect on domestic mills.
A November 6 Lafarge NA press release cites support for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, which during a World Trade Organization Subsidies Committee meeting raised the subject of the Quebec government’s McInnis plant participation. “Lafarge North America urges the United States to formally challenge the subsidization of McInnis Cement, in order to defend the U.S. industry and U.S. jobs from these unfair trade practices,” the release concludes.
McInnis Cement notes that a) member country delegates routinely discuss trade concerns at Subsidies Committee meetings; b) dialog surrounding the Quebec plant construction does not mean the U.S. will be filing a claim against Canada through the WTO; and, c) the United States Trade Representative is reviewing the company’s financing carefully.
“[We] will continue to fully support and cooperate with the United States Trade Representative, supplying comprehensive and transparent information regarding the [Port-Daniel-Gascons] project’s financial structure,” McInnis Cement affirms in a statement. “Apparently, Lafarge does not subscribe to the principles of free market competition on which both of our countries were founded. Such behavior, in the face of cement shortages already taking hold today in their core Great Lakes markets, will further restrict supply and drive up prices at the very time that the construction industry is recovering … Our construction in Quebec continues to accelerate. McInnis will successfully build its new plant and terminal network to satisfy future Canadian and U.S. cement needs.”