Monday, 18 June, 2018

Canada, Mexico not exempt from steel tariffs, Trump says

Trump's NAFTA negotiator'Time is running very short Mike Theiler-Pool Getty Images
Eugene Bates | 10 March, 2018, 01:57

It is a position that Trump repeated Tuesday in Washington during a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

U.S. President Donald Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from planned tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which could be extended based on progress in NAFTA talks, a White House official said on Wednesday night.

The tariffs could reduce US growth by as much as 0.2 percentage point this year, and the economy would sustain more damage if trading partners retaliate, with the greatest risk coming escalating duties, Barclays Plc economists said.

He said if three-way negotiations involving the U.S., Mexico and Canada don't work, "we are prepared to move on a bilateral basis".

One-in-5 Canadian jobs are created as a result of free trade agreements and it is critical that Justin Trudeau continues to protect these well-paying, high-quality jobs.

White House officials even say the specifics of the plan remain fluid and it's unclear when they will be finalized. He suggested Australia and "other countries" might also be spared, a shift that could soften the worldwide blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.

"Truthfully, we discussed this and chose to wait on this", she said.

Mnuchin said he is well aware of the fears about a trade war.

So the steel and aluminum tariffs aren't about national security or protecting steel workers or any of the rhetoric; they're leverage, at least as far as Canada and Mexico are concerned.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters at the same time in Vancouver that attempts by Trump to link steel tariffs with the ongoing NAFTA talks will not improve the state of negotiations.

The people briefed on the plans said all countries affected by the tariffs would be invited to negotiate with the Trump administration to be exempted from the tariffs if they can address the threat their exports pose to US manufacturers. Both have signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the huge trade pact that Trump pulled the USA out of (for no explainable reason other than TPP has something to do with trade).

Moody's Analytics Inc. forecast the tariffs would erode the competitiveness of a wide range of US manufacturing companies including in the transportation, construction and heavy machinery sectors. The United States are exposing their economy to "serious adverse effects that are greater than the expected gains", noted Jean Simard, president and CEO of the AAC. Since then, Canadian lawmakers and industry insiders have been lobbying the U.S.to honour Canada's partnership in an enmeshed, integrated steel industry in North America.

The formal tariff announcement could come as early as Thursday.

We can not measure how Trump's hostile and sometimes racist comments about Mexicans will change Mexico's willingness to make trade concessions.

Mexico and Canada have been looking elsewhere for economic relationships, and they're finding them. After an agreement is concluded, USA laws require additional steps before it can even be considered by the current Congress.

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