Trudeau to kick off tour of steel and aluminum factories in Quebec

Katrina Barker
March 13, 2018

The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks - giving in to other US demands or giving up some of their own -rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.

Freeland is coming off a tense week which started with the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations making little progress towards an agreement but ended with a sigh of relief when Canada and Mexico secured an exemption from new US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"We are negotiating the NAFTA accord in good faith and we will continue to do so, but I don't want the president to think he can bring tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum without there being consequences", he told Radio-Canada earlier in the day.

"We are anxious (about) the possibility of having a trade war between the United States and the European Union because we believe that there will be only losers. We believe that protectionism is a dead end". The moves slap a 25 percent levy on steel and 10 percent charge on aluminum.

The EU rejected Mr Trump's argument that the tariffs are required for national security reasons.

The US leader's threats were part of a dispute sparked by his announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, although the "America First" Trump administration has said it will consider exceptions and has already spared Mexico and Canada.

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

Amid uncertainty over who might be exempted, German Finance Minister Peter Altmaier appealed to reason, saying it is the "responsibility of everybody to keep worldwide trade as fair and open as possible". Mexican federal elections scheduled for July 1 and USA congressional elections in the fall are adding pressure, as changes of government as a result of either could affect both getting a deal and getting it ratified.

The EU's top trade official, Cecilia Malmstroem, responded Monday by charging that trade was being used "as a weapon to threaten and intimidate us". On Monday, he tweeted that Mr Ross would be speaking with European Union representatives about eliminating "large tariffs and barriers" "Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers", he said.

NAFTA talks started seven months ago and the starting to get antsy about getting a deal.

"Dialogue is always the prime option for the EU", European Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio said at a news briefing on Monday. It was not clear when or where the meeting would take place.

It was the second call in a week that Trudeau made to Trump on the tariffs issue. Experts largely blame overproduction by China for that.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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