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U.S. reaches deal with Canada, Mexico to remove steel, aluminum tariffs

Christian Fernsby |
The United States reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to remove tariffs it imposed on steel and aluminum imports from its two neighbors, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)'s office said on Friday.

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The USTR said in a statement that Canada and Mexico also agreed to remove their retaliatory tariffs levied on American products.

The move will lift the 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum tariffs the Trump administration placed on Canada and Mexico a year ago in the name of "national security," removing a major barrier to the three countries' new trade pact.

The United States, the USTR said, will re-impose tariffs on "specific steel and aluminum products" based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 if "surges" in those products occur.

"Any retaliation by Canada and Mexico would then be limited to steel and aluminum products," the statement added.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in his speech to the National Association of Realtors on Friday that he is "pleased" to announce the agreement, adding that while the United States has a "great relationship" with Canada, the latter has been "charging us extremely high tariffs."

The president also said he hopes that Congress will pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) "quickly."

Signed by the three nations on Nov. 30 to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, the USMCA still awaits approval by the trio's respective legislatures before fully taking effect.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Friday that the decision is terrific news for Canadian steel and aluminum workers, their families, and many communities across the country.

According to a press release by the Canadian Prime Minister's Office, Trudeau and Trump discussed the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada and other issues during their phone call on Friday.

A joint statement from the U.S. and Canadian governments said the tariffs would be lifted within two days, while Mexico has yet to publish its version of the statement.

The United States imposed additional tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum on imports from its trading partners worldwide, citing "national security" concerns.

The Trump administration's reluctance in exempting Canada and Mexico from the metal tariffs had frustrated the two countries during the USMCA negotiation, and was believed to be a major roadblock impeding the new deal's formal ratification.

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