Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged U.S. President Donald Trump to drop his steel and aluminum tariffs on Canadian imports Friday, at the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) in Argentina.
Trudeau said the tariffs remain a major obstacle to U.S. and Canadian prosperity, even under the new USMCA deal that both leaders signed with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto ahead of the G20 summit.
“We will not rest while those barriers remain,” Trudeau said in remarks delivered at the signing in Buenos Aires. “Canada will be as relentless in meeting this challenge as we were in updating NAFTA.”
WATCH BELOW: Trump, Nieto and Trudeau deliver remarks at USMCA signing
The prime minister did not refer to the deal as the USMCA. Instead, he called it “new NAFTA.”
Trudeau also referred to General Motors’ decision to close five automotive facilities, including one in Oshawa, Ont., as a “heavy blow,” adding that he spoke to Trump about the issue earlier this week.
“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said.
Trump has occasionally used Trudeau’s first name derisively when criticizing him at campaign rallies or on Twitter. He slammed “Justin” in a series of tweets over the summer after Trudeau vowed to stand firm on Canada’s dairy supply management system in a speech at the G7 summit. Trump left the summit early but watched Trudeau’s comments on TV.
WATCH BELOW: Trump blasts Trudeau after G7 summit, says he has TVs on Air Force One
The steel tariffs have been a source of friction between the two leaders ever since Trump imposed them in May when he claimed they were necessary to protect U.S. national security. The Trudeau government has called that characterization an insult to the close and mutually beneficial relationship both countries have historically enjoyed.
The Canadian government imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum, as well as several other significant U.S. products, on July 1.
WATCH BELOW: Trudeau, Trump, Nieto sign USMCA deal
Trump hailed the USMCA as an “amazing” deal in his remarks on Friday and heaped praise on Mexico’s President Pena Nieto, who is in his last day on the job.
Trudeau did not join the other two leaders in holding up the signed USMCA documents for a photo op.
Negotiators for the U.S., Mexico and Canada spent more than a year working on the replacement deal for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico reached a deal with the U.S. in late August, but Canada did not agree to the deal until Sept. 30.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister and chief trade negotiator, said after the signing Friday morning that it would be easy to get rid of the tariffs — should all parties be on board.
“Now is a great time to resolve this outstanding irritant,” she told reporters. “It’s not complicated from Canada’s perspective. We could solve it this afternoon.”
WATCH BELOW: Chrystia Freeland says tariff dispute is easy to resolve
Legislators in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico must vote on the new deal before it comes into effect.
–With files from the Associated Press