US agrees to lift steel, aluminum tariffs for Canada, Mexico

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U.S. officials have agreed to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada and Mexico in 48 hours, paving the way for the three North American countries to enact a new trade pact, the Washington Post and Politico reported on Friday.

The reports come after U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed the tariffs earlier on Friday, according to Trudeau’s spokesman.

Trudeau is scheduled to speak to reporters at 1:30 pm Eastern Time (1730 GMT) when he meets with steel workers at the Stelco Holding Inc, his spokesman said on Twitter.

The two leaders spoke “about Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, and Canada’s retaliatory tariffs,” Cameron Ahmad, Trudeau’s communications director, wrote. “They also discussed China, uranium, and the new NAFTA.”

The deal does not involve quotas, the two news outlets said.

The White House declined to comment on the reports.

Representatives for the U.S. Trade Representative and Mexican officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Removing the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico could help the three countries’ trade pact secure ratification in the U.S. Congress.

Lifting the tariffs was seen as a key hurdle to enacting U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal (USMCA) signed last year. The new pact would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

A senior Mexican official said that once the deal is announced and implemented, Canada and Mexico will lift retaliatory tariffs on billions of dollars of U.S. products. The deal announced on Friday leaves room for the reimposition of tariffs if imports of steel or aluminum “surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes” over a period of time, according to the joint statement. But any retaliation for such action would be limited to the steel and aluminum sectors.

“The United States’ removal of the 25% tariff on steel imports from Canada and Mexico is an unfavorable development for the US steel sector, and is credit negative for all US producers, as it will lead to increased imports, lower domestic steel prices and weaker cash flow generation,” Michael Corelli, VP-Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s said in an emailed statement.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Doina Chiacu in Washington and Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Dave Lawder; Writing by David Lawder and Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Susan Thomas)

 

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