U.S. Metal Tariffs Hit Canada and Mexico, Pressuring Nafta Talks

Posted May 31, 2018

"The president's overwhelming objective is to reduce our trade deficit".

The tariffs - 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum - will take effect at midnight Thursday, marking a major escalation of the trade war between the USA and its top trading partners.

"Such a move would hit American manufacturers with higher costs, slow the growth of the US construction sector, and put the brakes on job creation in both of these key industries", the Chamber said. "Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, accounting for 50% of USA exports", said Freeland in a statement.

"Mexico reiterates its openness to constructive dialogue with the United States, its support for the worldwide commerce system and its rejection of unilateral protectionist measures", it said. "I would like to absolutely assure Canadian participants, those who work in steel and aluminum industries, that the government is absolutely prepared to and will defend Canadian industries and Canadian jobs". Mexico said it would penalize USA imports including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

The countermeasures will hit US hot and cold rolled steel, plated steel and tubes, the ministry said.

Ross said that Argentina, Australia and Brazil will continue to be exempt from the tariffs though there have been "limitations" implemented "on the volume [of steel and aluminum] they can ship to the U.S".

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Trump's tariffs come amid a global glut in steel and aluminum which experts blame on over-production in China.

"The talks are taking longer than we had hoped".

It comes a day before an exemption to the planned tariffs is due to expire.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said talks with the European Union had made progress but not enough to continue the exemptions.

"If any of these parties does retaliate, that does not mean that there can not be continuing negotiations", he said.

Getting rid of the exemptions for Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, could complicate ongoing negotiations on NAFTA.

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The tariffs - 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum - take effect at midnight Friday.

Trump imposed the steel and aluminum penalties under a 1962 law that gives the president broad power to increase or reduce tariffs on goods deemed critical to national security.

The Trump administration launched a national security investigation last week into vehicle and truck imports, using the same 1962 law that he has applied to curb incoming steel and aluminum. Given the delicate nature of these issues, which have vast implications for Mexico and Canada's economies, Trump's saber rattling may hurt more than help according to Alden.

'But they can also increase costs more broadly for USA manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials.

Ross said the USA would consider the effect of those measures.

"We will immediately introduce a settlement dispute with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and will announce counter-balancing measures in the coming hours", he added.

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