Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz speaks at Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal.
Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune Most Powerful Women
By Emma Hinchliffe
November 6, 2018

Linamar is a Canadian manufacturing company with nearly $8 billion in revenue—and some of that success is at risk thanks to President Donald Trump’s still-intact tariffs on metal.

“This is taking a toll,” Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz said Tuesday at Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal, speaking with Fortune‘s Pattie Sellers. “We may be past the point of no return of being able to stop the ramifications.”

As chief executive of Linamar, Hasenfratz oversees a business that touches everything from the all-wheel-drive system in your car to camshafts and gears. Seventy percent of the business, which was founded by Hasenfratz’s father in 1964, is tied to the automotive industry.

Hasenfratz closely watched the negotiations between the United States and Canada on NAFTA, which ended with a new trade deal named the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the tricky deal-making process at the Summit’s dinner a night earlier.

Although the countries reached a deal, metal tariffs—25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum—are still in place for Canada and Mexico. When Sellers asked Hasenfratz if the tariffs would go away, Hasenfratz responded, “that’s an excellent question.”

Hasenfratz worries about a recession as a result of the tariffs, she said.

“Eventually prices have to go up, and that filters down to the consumer. The consumer stops buying, and that starts rolling into a negative economic situation,” she said.

For an industry where an auto part can cross North American borders seven times before it reaches consumers, the tariffs are taking a toll.

She added, “You can’t unscramble the eggs once you’ve got them scrambled.”


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