The US on Friday reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the corresponding retaliatory tariffs, a move likely to ease trade tensions between the three North American countries. Elimination of these tariffs is expected to remove a significant barrier to passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USD 1.4 trillion in North American trade supports more than 12 million American jobs.
"I'm pleased to announce that we've just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and will be selling our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs," Trump said in his address to the National Association of Realtors Legislative Meeting. Trump said the agreement is going to be a "fantastic deal" for the US.
He hoped the Congress will approve the USMCA quickly. "And then the great farmers and manufacturers and steel plants will make our economy even more successful than it already is if that's possible -- which it is possible," he said.
Earlier, Trump spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "The two leaders discussed the United States' Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum and Canada's retaliatory tariffs. The two leaders also discussed relations with China, uranium, and the new NAFTA," a Canadian press release said.
Such an agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico clears a major obstacle to the congressional approval of new North American trade deal called USMCA. The steep US tariffs imposed last year -- 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum -- became a major stumbling block to ratifying a new North American trade pact negotiated last year by the three countries.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Trump's strategy has worked. By acting in the best interests of national security, the President's imposition of Section 232 tariffs has brought American steel and aluminum plants roaring back to life, providing thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment across our nation, he said.
"These industries are crucial to protect our national security and critical infrastructure, and this deal is another notch in the long line of successes of President Trump," Ross said. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said the Trump Administration's deal with Canada and Mexico to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports marks another major milestone that gets us one step closer to ratifying the USMCA.
"This administration continues to follow through on their commitment to looking out for the best interests of American companies and consumers," he said. Studies are predicting passage of the USMCA would boost our already booming economy by billions of dollars and would add nearly 200,000 jobs to the US labour market, he added.
It is encouraging to see this agreement with Canada and Mexico, said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "It is my hope that the Trump Administration will work with the rest of our allies to refocus on standing up to China's trade cheating – instead of recklessly antagonizing our allies and inviting retaliation on American workers and goods," she said.
"It is a good thing these tariffs will be lifted, and we should urge our allies to join us in preventing China's predatory practices. There are still many other issues that are outstanding before Democrats would support the USMCA," Schumer said.
(With inputs from agencies.)