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Major U.S. business groups urge removal of tariffs on Mexico, Canada

Staff Writer |
More than 30 business and agriculture groups on Monday called on the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada, arguing that such tariffs are hurting U.S. exporters and putting jobs at risk.

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In a letter addressed to Lighthizer, an alliance of 34 associations said the Section 232 tariffs, which have been in place since June 1, significantly affect their relationships with their "most important trading partners," and expressed their "strong recommendation" to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico.

The groups said, as one of the main reasons for removal, the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum (and the related import quotas) have caused "significant" harm to American manufacturers, consumers and workers, raising costs for a wide array of industries.

"This endangers the jobs of millions of workers in those industries, who collectively represent a far greater share of the American workforce than those who benefit from the restrictions," the letter read, adding that retaliatory tariffs are hurting U.S. exporters and threatening jobs as well.

Claiming that tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum are "entirely inconsistent" with the overall goals of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the groups said the continuation of these tariffs slapped on Mexico and Canada may create "impediments" to Congressional passage of the bill.

The agreement, reached more than a month ago, is expected to be signed on Nov. 30 when leaders from all three countries gather for the Group of Twenty (G20) meetings in Buenos Aires despite steel and aluminum tariffs, but discrepancy over the tariffs would make the occasion less pleasant.

The agreement then needs to be ratified by lawmakers from the three countries before being able to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in the 1990s.

In June, the United States imposed a tariff of 25 percent on steel imports and a 10 percent on aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and the European Union, among other regions. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration cited national security concerns to justify the tariffs.

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