The U.S. is dropping its tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum almost exactly a year after the measures took effect.
Global Affairs Canada said the tariffs — 25 per cent on imports of steel from Canada and 10 per cent on aluminum — will be lifted within two days.
Speaking at Hamilton’s Stelco manufacturing facility on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a good day for Canadian steel and aluminum workers.
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He said that there was no breakthrough moment in the negotiations, but the deal was the result of a sustained effort to have the tariffs fully lifted.
“This is just pure good news for Canadians, for families, as they head into that long weekend right across the country, whether it’s in Saskatchewan, in Sault Ste. Marie, here in Hamilton or in Saguenay … families will know that their jobs are a little more secure,” he said.
The announcement came days after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had what she called a “good meeting” with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington.
The tariffs, imposed by the Trump administration last year, caused major friction with Canada during negotiations for the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — and presented a potential barrier to its ratification.
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Canada, the U.S. and Mexico spent more than a year in talks, but the steel and aluminum tariffs were not resolved as part of the deal reached last fall, known in this country as Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
“As we look at moving forward with the new NAFTA, it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue to have tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who spoke with Trudeau on Friday, told reporters he hopes that Congress quickly approves the new deal.
Vice President Mike Pence said he will meet with Trudeau in Ottawa on May 30 to discuss moving forward on CUSMA.
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Canada’s steel and aluminum industries employed about 33,500 Canadians in 2017 and added $8.9 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, according to federal government figures.
In a statement, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called the removal of the tariffs a “good step in strengthening jobs and economic growth.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was pleased that the federal government was able to reverse the measures.
The tariffs have been in place since June 1, 2018. The measures prompted the Canadian government to impose $16.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on American goods such as whiskey and washing machines.
As part of the deal reached, Canada will lift those retaliatory tariffs. Both sides have agreed to halt litigation at the World Trade Organization.
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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had justified the tariffs — which were also imposed on Mexico — as necessary to prevent a flood of Chinese steel into the U.S. through its NAFTA partner countries.
Ross also admitted the tariffs were part of the U.S. negotiating strategy, even though they were imposed under a section of American trade law that gives the president authority to implement such measures to protect national security.
With files from the Canadian Press
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