Trudeau Says Canada Does Not Link Trump Tariffs to NAFTA Deal
15 March, 2018, 03:17
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday sought to reassure steel and aluminum workers anxious about possible U.S tariffs, telling them the government would always have their backs.
What he heard directly from the president echoed public remarks from Trump's administration: the USA trade czar recently said he wants a new NAFTA concluded within weeks, because of upcoming elections in the different countries.
"These are two separate tracks and in the NAFTA negotiations Canada will not be subject to any type of pressure", she said.
"We recognize that the American side is eager to get forward motion on NAFTA", Trudeau told CNN's Anderson Cooper, in one of his USA interviews.
While that kind of talk makes agriculture very nervous, Mr. Trump said he is optimistic there will be a NAFTA deal, "I have a feeling we are going to make a deal on NAFTA".
Trudeau rejected calls by some Quebec union leaders to take a harder line in NAFTA talks and leave the table if Canada can not get a better deal.
"Although we support the administration's goals to protect the U.S. steel industry and steel mill workers, the disparity in numbers demonstrates that U.S. steel-consuming industries contribution a more significant percentage of U.S. GDP and have more at stake with the imposition of these tariffs than the U.S. steel-producing industry", ACA President and CEO William Hanvey, wrote in the signatory of the letter. On Saturday, Cecilia Malmström, the European Union's trade commissioner, met with the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, in Brussels, after a meeting that also included Japan to talk about steel overcapacity.
When Trump announced the 10 per cent tariffs on aluminium and 25 per cent on steel, he said Canada and Mexico could be exempted permanently if the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) is successful.
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"The exemptions aren't a magical favour that was being done", Trudeau later said in an interview with US television's CNBC.
He said he and Trump also "welcomed and encouraged the progress being made on negotiation of the renewed North American Free Trade Agreement" and discussed an opioid crisis affecting both nations.
There's no question steel is an essential part of a wide range of weapons and other goods used by the military, from tanks to battleships. There is no better security partner in the world.
"The case in 232 is the argument that for national security reasons we need to maintain a high level of production of some particular commodity", says Nicholas Lardy, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Later this week Trudeau is due to visit the steel town of Hamilton, where workers are on edge.
Trudeau has wrapped up his tour of Hamilton, late this afternoon he was off to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Regina. While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves.
Canada is the biggest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States but the steel sector accounted for only 22,000 direct jobs and represented 2 percent of exports past year.
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