U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision today to delay auto tariffs on Japan and Europe is generating fresh hope that there might be an end in sight to his punitive levies on Canadian steel and aluminum imports.
Canadian officials are “encouraged” by a pair of conversations in the past week between Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as Wednesday’s Washington meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Trump trade czar Robert Lighthizer.
But sources say that after so many false starts about the possible lifting of tariffs, nothing is certain until it actually happens.
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A U.S. Commerce Department review found that imports of automobiles and some parts could hurt U.S. national security, but Trump decided to wait 180 days before imposing tariffs and ordered new talks to deal with the issue.
The Commerce Department reached the same conclusion about Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports almost one year ago and imposed the tariffs under a section of American trade law that gives the president that authority.
Freeland, Trudeau and others have branded the tariffs as illegal, absurd and insulting, while Canada and Mexico say that it will be tough to ratify the new continental free trade agreement if they remain in place.