Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Trump, Trudeau disagree on steel tariffs' connection to NAFTA

Trump, Trudeau disagree on steel tariffs' connection to NAFTA

"National security is a very important aspect of this deal, and if we're making the deal on NAFTA, this will figure into whether or not there are tariffs on Canada and Mexico", says the president.

President Trump told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday that new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum make it more urgent to conclude renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"The exemptions aren't a magical favor that was being done", Trudeau later said in an interview with US television's CNBC.

US tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum would be "very harmful" for industry and workers in both countries, he added.

Trudeau also said it was in part due to the hard work of Canadian officials that Trump exempted Canada from the tariffs last week.

The prime minister made the point by mentioning in his USA 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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Chantale Gagnon says that while many in the industry breathed a sigh of relief when Canada and Mexico were temporarily exempted from the tariffs, they remain anxious that the measure could be reversed.

"The Prime Minister acknowledged and supported the special consideration extended to Canada in the context of steel and aluminum tariffs that the President announced last week, and emphasized that preserving our mutually beneficial supply chains is critical to jobs and businesses on both sides of the border", said the release.

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. While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke to reporters alongside Trudeau and said he wouldn't accept any undue pressure on the province's dairy farmers as a potential compromise in the steel and aluminum conflict.

However, they expect any talks about a possible permanent exemption to take place outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Quebec has a supply management system regarding dairy, poultry and eggs, which imposes steep tariffs on those products entering the country.

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