Published: Tue, March 13, 2018

Trudeau, Trump talk steel and aluminum

Trudeau, Trump talk steel and aluminum

The American administration has expressed a desire to get a NAFTA deal in a hurry and some prominent members have been suggesting that the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs might prod the negotiations along. "We're going to hold off the tariff on these two countries to see whether or not we can make a successful deal on NAFTA", he said during a signing ceremony for the two proclamations that will impose the 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum.

His comments came amid rising global trade tensions in the wake of a U.S. decision to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Canada, the top supplier of steel and aluminum to the USA markets, has been temporarily exempted from the tariffs.

"If national security is that Mexico sends steel, or Canada sends steel, two of the [U.S.] great allies, then I don't know what national security has to do with this", Solis said at a news conference before Trump's decision to exclude Mexico.

"(We're) highlighting that the imposition of tariffs on Canada would end up hurting the USA nearly as much as it would hurt Canada".

Trudeau called his American counterpart during a tour of aluminum facilities in Quebec, on a day the prime minister did American television interviews to promote the integrated Canada-U.S. economy.

The prime minister made the point by mentioning in his US interview that he was a few kilometres from the Bagotville air force base, built during the Second World War to protect critical aluminum supplies required by the military.

On the subject of national-security tariffs, Trudeau told CNN: "Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets".

Well before Trump's announcement last week, the White House had signaled that Mexico and Canada could be left off the list of countries targeted for punishment, and Mexican negotiators were already wary of the fine print. While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves.

Trudeau's first stop was the province of Quebec, the heart of Canada's aluminum industry, where he will be accompanied by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

But both Mexico and Canada rejected Trump's linkage of the levies to the ongoing NAFTA talks.

Canada is the largest market for the United States, with 283 billion US dollars worth of goods exported to Canada in 2017.

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