The Quebec government is prepared to support financially smaller aluminum producers hurt by U.S. tariffs just as it did with the softwood lumber sector, the province's economic development minister said Monday.

"If there is a risk of reducing their production or a risk of not being able to export as much, we will be there to support them in making sure that they maintain the jobs that they have in that sector," Dominique Anglade told an aluminum summit.

"This is the approach we took with softwood lumber, we'll be taking the same approach yet again this time with Quebec firms in aluminum."

The minister didn't announce details of that support, but said a meeting will take place next Monday with the various players.

The province has received about 20 requests for financial support from the softwood lumber sector, but no money has yet been distributed, a government official said.

The aluminum industry and politicians from Canada and Quebec are meeting for two days to discuss challenges facing the sector including U.S. tariffs against Canada and other global suppliers.

The event started Sunday with a discussion about free and fair trade by former Quebec premier Jean Charest and the heads of several aluminum producers. The sessions Monday will focus on government policy dealing with global overcapacity along with the support of free and fair trade.

Exemptions for Canada ended

The summit comes days after the United States imposed import duties on steel and aluminum

U.S. President Donald Trump had exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union when he imposed 25 per cent import duties on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum in early March. Those exemptions ended Friday, prompting retaliation from the Canadian government.

"Clearly what happened last week was a direct attack on our economy in a way that is totally unreasonable especially in that it's not addressing the main issue," Anglade said.

"We all know that we have an issue of overcapacity with China."

She said the province and Canada have no choice but to fight the U.S. administration's decision.

Canada has laid out retaliatory tariffs set to be applied July 1. They will match the steel and aluminum tariffs and add duties to a wide range of consumer goods.

Aluminum supports about 30,000 jobs in Quebec, which is a major supplier of the metal. Of the $8 billion worth of aluminum exported from the province, $7 billion goes to the United States.

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