Trudeau, Trump talk tariffs

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

The prime minister was touring an aluminium smelter in Alma, Quebec.

"One of the things I pointed out to the president is that the steel issue would actually make it harder to move forward on NAFTA", Trudeau said.

"This has been a true Team Canada effort", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland noted this week.

She is to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Congressional leaders and others.

Worldwide trade lawyer Larry Herman says the USA tariffs mean there is now a lot of steel looking for a home and he encourages the federal government to put out a firm policy statement soon explaining what it will do if it finds evidence other countries are attempting to dump their steel in Canada.

The president's decision last week exempted Canada and Mexico "at least at this time", and called on the North American Free Trade Agreement partners to "take action to prevent transshipment" of aluminum and steel.

"(That would) ensure the vitality of United States and North American manufacturing industries and. protect the economic and national security of the United States".

Trump's eagerness to seal the deal of NAFTA came months after the United States and Canada were on the loggerheads on this issue. "We will continue working toward securing a definite and permanent exemption from those tariffs", Trudeau said earlier. Mexico is also a member nation of the trade deal.

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Trudeau's view has prominent support: A poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago has found rare unanimity on the topic, with a newly released survey Monday showing that zero per cent of economists surveyed believe tariffs will help Americans.

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

Mr. Trudeau and members of his cabinet have insisted that the two issues are not linked and that extending the tariffs to steel and aluminum imported from Canada would harm the US economy.

"There is a global overcapacity issue and we are very pleased to work with our allies and friends to continue to counter that problem", he said.

NAFTA talks might now enter an intense phase: "President Trump emphasized the importance of quickly concluding the ongoing NAFTA negotiations", said a readout from the White House on Monday's call with Trudeau.

Azevedo said Brazil was "exploring alternatives" for responding to the tariffs.

Canada is the United States' largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed to the country.

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