May 17, 2019 1:13 pm
Updated: May 18, 2019 1:44 am

Canada and U.S. reach deal to drop steel, aluminum tariffs

ABOVE: U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to remove steep tariffs imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products nearly a year ago. As David Akin reports, a final deal will be ratified within two days.

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The U.S. is dropping its tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum almost exactly a year after the measures took effect.

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READ MORE: Trump, Trudeau and tariffs — a timeline of the U.S.-Canada standoff on trade

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.

WATCH: Trudeau says steady conversations led to end of steel, aluminum tariffs

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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.

READ MORE: Economists say end of U.S. tariffs is good news for Canada, but not out of woods yet

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.

WATCH: Trump says he hopes U.S. Congress will approve USMCA pact quickly

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.

WATCH: Canada, U.S. and Mexico cooperating on steel trade concerns, Trudeau says

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.

READ MORE: Freeland says Canadian support for new NAFTA may hinge on U.S. lifting tariffs

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.

WATCH: Trade wars – how they work and who they impact

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

WATCH: Trudeau says Canada didn’t give up anything to end steel, aluminium tariffs

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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