May 26, 2019

US to remove tariffs on Canadian metals, Mexico deal imminent

18 May 2019, 05:32 | Glen Norman

The White House had to decide by Saturday whether to slap tarifffs on autos over what it calls national security

Trump administration will delay auto tariffs for up to six months

U.S. President Donald Trump will give Japan and the European Union 180 days to agree to a deal that would "limit or restrict" imports into the U.S. of automobiles and their parts in return for delaying new auto tariffs, according to a draft executive order seen by Bloomberg.

The two countries also agreed to monitor imports of steel and aluminum to ensure metals that are sold at "dumped prices" - below the cost of production - are not purchased in or shipped through Canada and Mexico.

They also agreed to create a special monitoring mechanism to promptly detect import "surges".

Trudeau said Canada would now work with the United States on the timing of USMCA ratification and said he was optimistic Canada would be "be able to move forward well in the coming weeks".

The approach harks back to the voluntary export restraints the US negotiated with Japan during an earlier period of trade tension in the 1980s.

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At the time Freeland called it the "the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era".

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said the move should clear the way for the ratification of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) reached late previous year, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

For example, under Trump's 25 per cent tariff on Canadian steel, an American company buying $100 worth of Canadian steel pays the USA government $25.

"But it looks like some sense of sanity has prevailed in the White House at long last, helped along the way by huge pressure from the USA private sector that found these surcharges to be very hurtful".

Word of the agreement began to trickle out Friday amid reports that US negotiators had backed off long-standing demands for a hard limit on imports of Canadian steel and aluminum, part of an effort to keep cheap Chinese product out of the country. Because of rising imports of autos and parts over the past 30 years, the market share of USA -owned automakers has fallen.

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Additionally, "the United States and Canada agree to terminate all pending litigation". But both Canada and Mexico, neighbors and close US allies, had bristled at being labeled national security dangers and rejected that demand.

John Bozzella, president of Global Automakers, representing foreign carmakers operating in the USA, added: "No automaker or auto parts supplier asked for this 'protection.' We are headed down a risky and destructive course".

The Commerce Department started the investigation a year ago under Section 232 of a 1960s trade law, the same provision the administration used to slap tariffs on steel and aluminium.

This announcement comes after Trump talked by phone with Trudeau about both the USMCA trade deal and the tariffs.

Flags of the U.S., Canada and Mexico fly next to each other in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. August 29, 2018.

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The tariffs have stood in the way of getting Trump's new North American trade deal approved by Congress, and ratified in Canada and Mexico. "China ought to take note/start dealing in good faith & take Pres Trump seriously". Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) put it bluntly in an op-ed that ran in The Wall Street Journal last month: "There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place".

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