President Donald Trump urged the quick completion of the NAFTA negotiations in a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, amid indications the U.S. wants a deal wrapped up this spring.
Trudeau called his American counterpart during a tour of aluminum facilities in Quebec, on a day the prime minister did American television interviews to promote the integrated Canada-U.S. economy.
What he heard directly from the president echoed public remarks from Trumps administration: the U.S. trade czar recently said he wants a new NAFTA concluded within weeks, because of upcoming elections in the different countries.
Trudeau, currently celebrating Canadas exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs with a cross-country tour of factories, was a guest on CNNs “Anderson Cooper 360” Monday night. Trudeau appeared on the show from an aluminum plant in Quebec.
The U.S. has said further delays might imperil the negotiations, with an outsider candidate leading polls for Mexicos July 1 election, and with Trumps party in danger of losing control of the U.S. Congress.
“Our Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets, Canadian steel is in your tanks,” Trudeau said. “There is no better security partner in the world to the United States than Canada is so that whole issue of national security is off the table.”
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“We recognize that the American side is eager to get forward motion on NAFTA,” Trudeau told CNNs Anderson Cooper, in one of his U.S. interviews.
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Trudeau said tariffs on Canada would have made it harder to get a deal, and said he raised that with the president. He also credited Trump for keeping a promise: he said the president told him at last years G7 that Canada would get an exemption, and kept his word.
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NAFTA talks might now enter an intense phase: “President Trump emphasized the importance of quickly concluding the ongoing NAFTA negotiations,” said a readout from the White House on Mondays call with Trudeau.
“(That would) ensure the vitality of United States and North American manufacturing industries and … protect the economic and national security of the United States.”
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.
But some veterans of the original NAFTA have expressed doubt that its feasible to complete a deal by spring; thats what it would take to complete the ratification procedures during the current Congress that leaves office this year.
Beijing tried to defuse threats of trade sanctions by agreeing at a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in 2016 to form a global panel to discuss how to shrink the industry. But it avoided any binding commitments.
Trudeau is also brushing off the idea that Canada might be bullied into a deal.
The U.S. government has been dropping hints that the decision to excuse Canada and Mexico from tariffs on steel and aluminum might only be temporary, and somehow dependent on the result of trade negotiations.
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Trudeau told another U.S. network that he sees them as separate issues: “We dont link together the tariffs and the negotiations with NAFTA,” he told CNBC in an interview from a Quebec aluminum plant Monday.
U.S. President Donald Trump signs a presidential proclamation placing tariffs on aluminum imports and steel imports while surrounded by workers from the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2018. (Leah Mills/Reuters)
Trudeau also rejected the idea that the tariff exemption was some kind of benevolent American favour that required repayment. In Trudeaus view, the U.S. wasnt just helping Canada — it helped itself by refraining from slapping tariffs on its No. 1 supplier of both steel and aluminum.
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“The exemptions arent a magical favour that was being done (for Canada),” Trudeau said.
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“(Were) highlighting that the imposition of tariffs on Canada would end up hurting the U.S. almost as much as it would hurt Canada.”
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Trudeaus view has prominent support: A poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago has found rare unanimity on the topic, with a newly released survey Monday showing that zero per cent of economists surveyed believe tariffs will help Americans.
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He made the point by mentioning in his CNBC interview that he was a few kilometres from the Bagotville air force base, built during the Second World War to protect critical aluminum supplies required by the military.
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On the subject of national-security tariffs, Trudeau told CNN: “Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets. Canadian steel is in your tanks. There is no better security partner in the world… So that whole issue of national security is off the table.
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The prime minister is on a cross-country tour of aluminum and steel factories to demonstrate his governments support for workers in light of potential threats to those industries from the U.S. administration.
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The Trump administration has set tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, applicable to every country except Canada and Mexico. While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves.
Canada is the United States largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum, with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed to that country.
HAMILTON – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the national security argument the U.S. is making when it comes to considering tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum makes no sense.
Trudeau says hes been telling U.S. President Donald Trump for over a year that there is no national security threat from Canadian steel or aluminum.
Trudeau made the comments in an early-morning appearance on Hamilton television station CHCH before planned visits of steel mills in the Ontario city.
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Trump recently exempted Canada and Mexico from tariffs on steel and aluminum, although the U.S. government has been dropping hints that the exception is only temporary.
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Trudeau says he will keep the pressure on Trump during the tariff negotiations, as well as on negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The prime minister is on a tour of Canadian steel towns to show his support to workers in the industry.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the national security argument the U.S. is making when it comes to considering tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum makes no sense.
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