“The Prime Minister also registered his serious concern about the US Administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum,” according to the call readout from the Prime Minister’s Office. “He emphasized that the introduction of tariffs would not be helpful to reaching a deal on NAFTA.”
Trump and Trudeau were both said to be happy with how the NAFTA talks have improved.
“The leaders also agreed on the importance of bringing these negotiations to a successful conclusion.”
A source told Reuters that Trudeau “forcefully defended” Canadian workers and the industry although the Canadian official said the call remained cordial.
In a surprise announcement last week, Trump declared that his administration planned to initiate tariffs on the steel and aluminum industry.
Canada, which is the single largest supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States, stands to be hardest hit by any such tariffs.
Many U.S. government lawmakers have balked about the proposed tariffs and the stock markets have plummeted since the announcement but Trump said earlier Monday that he won’t back down on the issue.
WATCH: Trump says he’s ‘100 per cent’ behind steel, aluminum tariffs but ‘no trade war’
“We’re not backing down,” Trump said during a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war,” he added, without elaborating.
Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s top trade envoy, hinted Monday that the tariffs were an attempt to speed up the pace of NAFTA talks.
“I presented it as a positive thing,” Lighthizer told reporters, adding:
“It is my view that it’s an incentive to get a deal.”
Lighthizer says the U.S. is concerned the pace of the NAFTA talks will slow to a halt as we near pending elections across the continent.
There are provincial elections slated for Ontario and Quebec this year while the U.S. will hold its midterms in the fall and Mexico is set for a presidential election.
*With files from Reuters