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October 1, 2018

With Nafta deal, Trump opens door to metal tariffs agreement

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With a Nafta deal on the table — and a bullet dodged for the auto sector — the clock is ticking for the next key trade talks for Canada’s steel and aluminum industries.

After a marathon weekend of discussions, negotiators secured a deal to replace the 24-year-old Nafta agreement just before a midnight deadline on Sunday. However, the steel and aluminum tariffs that U.S. President Donald Trump imposed on Canada and Mexico will be dealt with separately.

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Canada and Mexico will push to resolve the steel and aluminum tariffs over the next two months, leading up to the signing of the new USMCA deal, three people familiar with talks said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mexico’s economy minister has said the country hopes to resolve the steel and aluminum tariffs before the USMCA is signed.

“If I were Canada, I would use the next 60 days, leading to the final signing of the agreement to get this exemption because after that we lose all our leverage,” Jean Simard, chief executive officer of the Aluminium Association of Canada, said by telephone. “We certainly are pleased to see that there was an agreement over the weekend but, at the same time, we’re very disappointed that current U.S. tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada haven’t been lifted.”

Trump’s so-called “232 tariffs” were named for Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and allow the U.S. president to restrict imports for national security. Canada has responded with its own tariffs. One side letter that’s part of the new trade deal allows for 60 days of negotiations in order to “adopt or maintain” any 232 tariff, though it was unclear when, or if, that would kick in for steel and aluminum.

Speaking at the White House Monday, Trump said the steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place, but opened the door to an agreement where the countries agree to quotas.

Keep reading on Bloomberg


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