May 23, 2019
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US reaches agreement with Mexico, Canada on lifting metals tariffs

Washington, May 17 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States confirmed Friday that his administration has reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada to eliminate US tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from those countries.

Donald Trump said he was confident the deal, which also includes the elimination of retaliatory tariffs that the US's neighbors had imposed on American products, will pave the way for ratification of a new trilateral trade pact - the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

"I'm pleased to announce we've just reached agreement with Canada and Mexico. We'll be selling our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs," Trump said in a speech at a National Association of Realtors conference in Washington.

He added that he hoped that the US Congress will soon ratify the USMCA so that US farmers can be even more successful.

Trump did not specifically mention steel or aluminum tariffs in his speech.

But his remarks came shortly after the US and Canadian governments said in a joint statement that they had reached a deal that eliminated both US levies on imports of those metals from Canada and Canadian retaliatory tariffs on certain products originating in the US.

In May 2018, the US imposed a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports and a 25 percent tariff on steel imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Those trading partners had initially been exempted from the tariffs, which were imposed at those same levels on most of the world's countries two months earlier.

Trump's reference to Mexico in his speech indicated Washington also will be removing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the Aztec nation in the next 48 hours, as several news outlets have reported.

The announcement comes after several phone conversations between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and after Ottawa had said Parliament would not ratify the USMCA - which is meant to supersede the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement - unless the tariffs were removed.

Canada and Mexico expected the tariffs would be lifted before the USMCA was signed late last year, but Washington's refusal to do so became an obstacle to the trade deal's ratification by the three nation's legislatures.

The USMCA is an updated version of NAFTA, which Trump slammed as a disaster for American workers during his surprise run to the White House in 2016.

The road to ratification of the trade deal in the US may have become smoother after Mexico on May 1 enacted a labor-law overhaul demanded by the opposition Democrats in the US House of Representatives.

But the House has not yet scheduled a vote on the USMCA.

In their joint statement, the US and Canada said they would "terminate all pending litigation between them in the World Trade Organization" and implement effective measures to "prevent the importation of aluminum and steel that is unfairly subsidized and/or sold at dumped prices."

They also pledged to "prevent the transshipment of aluminum and steel made outside of Canada or the United States to the other country," an apparent reference to US concerns that shipments of those metals from China would make their way to the US via the neighboring country.

Mexico, for its part, hailed the lifting of US tariffs on its steel and aluminum as a move would pave the way for ratification of the USMCA and announced that it would suspend its retaliatory levies on US products.

"We enthusiastically welcome President Trump's decision to eliminate the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on Mexico and Canada. This action opens the door for progress toward ratification of the USMCA," the Mexican government's undersecretary for North America, Jesus Seade, wrote on Twitter.

The Mexican president's office also said both countries agreed to end all pending litigation between them in the WTO related to the US tariffs and to implement measures to prevent imports of dumped aluminum and steel.

jcr/mc

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