Trudeau, Trump talk tariffs

Erika Holt
March 15, 2018

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised aluminum and steelworkers on Monday he would defend them against possible U.S. tariffs and called U.S. President Donald Trump to stress that "mutually beneficial" cross-border supply chains should be preserved. Some of the highlights: Presidential proclamations, signed March 8, set in motion a new tariff regime created to come into effect 15 days after signing, .

Brazil has said it will seek exemption from the newly imposed tariffs. With Canada and Mexico now in the midst of North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) re-negotiations with the USA, the potential imposition of new tariffs should the talks go awry serves as great leverage for the United States to push for more favourable terms.

The Trump administration has temporarily exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs and has suggested it may add other countries.

"The exemptions aren't a magical favour that was being done (for Canada)", Trudeau said.

Trudeau rejected calls by some Quebec union leaders to take a harder line in NAFTA talks and leave the table if Canada can not get a better deal. Yet privately, many nations are moving to consider trade concessions that would exempt them from the USA tariffs. "While we are grateful that our trading partners, Canada and Mexico, are now exempt, it is our view that these tariffs will quickly become a tax on the fix and maintenance of vehicles, a tax that will ultimately be paid for in higher fix prices by the American auto owner".

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will be in Washington for three days this week - meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and key members of Congress.

On the subject of national-security tariffs, Trudeau told CNN: "Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets".

"The case in 232 is the argument that for national security reasons we need to maintain a high level of production of some particular commodity", says Nicholas Lardy, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Canadian steel is in your tanks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with workers during a visit to Stelco Hamilton Works in Hamilton Ont., Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

"We are ready to take action whenever action is required. we had your backs last week and we always will", Trudeau said after visiting a Rio Tinto Ltd (RIO.AX) (RIO.L) smelter in Alma, Quebec, his first stop on a tour this week of Canada's steel and aluminum regions. Marie before heading to Regina. The talks had been scheduled to end this month, but all sides plan to keep working to try to reach an agreement no matter how long it takes.

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