Trump charges Ross with pushing European Union to lower tariffs, European Union demurs

Marie Harrington
March 13, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged on Monday that he personally reassured U.S. President Donald Trump last week that Canada won't become a transit station for offshore steel and aluminum into the U.S. market. Trudeau "emphasized that preserving (the two nations') mutually beneficial supply chains is critical to jobs and businesses on both sides of the border", according to a summary.

The president announced last week that the United States would impose heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, with some countries potentially exempted.

As the United States tries to light a fire under NAFTA negotiations, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will not be bullied or pressured by the United States as part of those talks.

Trudeau said he's willing to work with the USA on a stronger solution.

Trade actions against offshore steel initiated by the government and brought to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal would likely carry a greater sense of urgency than those brought by industry, Mr. Galimberti said in an interview Monday.

The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks - giving in to other US demands or giving up some of their own -rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties. According to an European Union statement, the average European Union tariff is 3 per cent, not much more than the United States' average 2.4 per cent.

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The EU is seeking to be exempted from planned USA import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, but says Washington has not made clear how the exemption process works.

However, Trump is using Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to impose this set of tariffs.

Joseph Galimberti says Canada has to work very quickly to identify possible attempts to circumvent the USA tariffs by sneaking steel in through Canada and must be prepared to act to stop this. Indeed, most European Union countries are in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the world's biggest security alliance, together with the U.S. Marie, Ont., and Regina.

Executives in the steel-processing sector describe the manner in which countries and importers get around tariffs as being akin to a sheet of paper.

"Cherry-picking particular tariffs in one category, like looking just at vehicle tariffs on both sides, misses the whole picture, while not taking into account lower levels on other products does not give an accurate picture of tariffs in general", a Commission spokesman said.

The Prime Minister told aluminum plant workers in Saguenay, Quebec, he will always have their backs when it comes to fighting US tariffs. In fact, the impositions of tariffs on Canada would hurt the US nearly as much as Canada, he said.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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