Canada vows to 'respond appropriately' to any U.S. steel tariffs

Geraldine Edwards
June 2, 2018

President Donald Trump is running out of time to deliver a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) he promised for this year and people involved in the talks say the crunch is largely of his administration's own making.

Yet despite Freeland's insistance NAFTA and US tariffs are separate issues, it is clear NAFTA talks are deeply entangled with the steel and aluminum import issue, as well as an investigation the USA has launched into the national security implications of automotive imports.

Freeland insisted the steel issue remains separate from the renegotiation of NAFTA, a deal that Trump has repeatedly blasted and threatened to rip up.

With no NAFTA ministerial planned, however, other trade spats and negotiations will occupy center stage.

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Canada is one of the United States' biggest suppliers of steel and aluminum products and has, for now, been exempted from proposed tariffs put forward by the Trump administration. The United States is easily Mexico's most important trading partner.

Pence "seemed to understand very clearly that national-security issues don't really apply when you talk about steel or aluminum from Canada", Trudeau said of his conversation.

"We're continuing to work, highlighting that it would be not great for Canadian workers and Canadian industry, obviously, but it also would be hard for American workers, American jobs and American consumers, who will pay more for various products".

The prime minister said the government is dealing with the US on multiple economic fronts, including trying to forge a deal on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

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Freeland said she and Lighthizer would continue their discussion later in the day by telephone, but the clock is ticking against them. "The idea that Canada and Canadian cars could pose any kind of security threat to the United States is frankly absurd", Freeland said during Monday's question period in the House of Commons. 232 of the U.S. Trade Expansion Act. "When is this government going to table what that specifically means for Canadian companies and workers and defend their jobs?" "We will respond - we will respond appropriately".

Trump continues to throw "so many ridiculous proposals on the table" that it's clear to Dias "the man does not want a deal.because he figures he's politically much better off heading into the USA primaries saying 'Listen, I've got tariffs, I'm retaliating, I'm fighting all these countries that have ripped us off for years, I'm playing absolute political hardball and I need (Republicans in) the senate and the House (of Representatives) in order to maintain it".

"We are very intensely engaged", Freeland said. "We think a win-win-win outcome is absolutely possible for all three countries".

Guajardo will not be at the Tuesday meeting in Washington.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been talking by phone with Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in recent days, despite dwindling hope of reaching a deal on updating NAFTA.

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