North American Countries Reach Deal On Tariffs

The United States has reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift steel and aluminum tariffs. The Canadian and American governments released a joint statement announcing the deal, while the Mexican government made its announcement in a separate statement. All three countries said that the tariffs would be removed within a matter of days.

U.S. President Donald Trump had imposed tariffs of 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum on both Canada and Mexico in March 2018, citing national security grounds at the time. Canada and Mexico levied tariffs on American goods in retaliation. The two countries also sought to have the matter litigated by the World Trade Organization (WTO). According to the released statements, all of the countries agree to drop the recently enacted tariffs and cease all pending litigation with the WTO.

The tariffs were seen a key obstacle to passing the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trilateral trade deal meant to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Progress toward ratification of the agreement was halted after the implementation of the metals tariffs. The Canadian and Mexican governments, along with top U.S. lawmakers, had pushed the Trump administration to remove the tariffs before progress could resume.

The deal was reached by the three countries last fall after nine rounds of contentious negotiations. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said he is “optimistic” about moving forward with the agreement in the coming weeks. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement in response to the tariff removal that Canada will move quickly to ratify the new trade pact. Freeland did not say when the agreement would be presented to parliament, which closes down in June ahead of an October national election. The Trump administration wants Congress to vote on USMCA before lawmakers leave for a recess that lasts for the entire month of August.