The Canadian government is balking at U.S. plans an event to celebrate the US-Mexico-Canada-agreement on trade, saying it won't participate in anything until the U.S. addressed one lingering issue left over from the USMCA talks: whether Canada will get exempted from President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.
Canada's U.S. ambassador, David MacNaughton, told Politico Friday that he had heard that the Trump administration wanted to hold an event prior to the fall election at a Midwestern city to tout the deal reached late last month, and said that any such event would not include a representative of his government. “There won’t be any of that as long as the tariffs are in place,” he said.
A Canadian embassy official stressed to the Washington Examiner that any such event would be purely symbolic anyway, as the U.S. Congress has yet to ratify the USMCA deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that a congressional vote would not happen until next year at the earliest. The embassy official added that the tariffs were technically a separate issue from the USMCA deal but that the Canadian government was nevertheless still pursuing talks to have them lifted.
MacNaughton said, “I think we are hopeful, and we have every expectation that the tariffs will be removed.”
The Trump administration initially carved out exceptions for Canada and Mexico to its 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent aluminum tariffs, then revoked them in June as a way to pressure both countries during the talks to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now that those talks are seemingly resolved, the White House is being pressured to by both of those countries and by domestic trade groups to restore the exemptions in order to get Canada and Mexico to lift the retaliatory tariffs they threw at the U.S. over the summer.
Canada complained that the U.S. tariffs were unfair, noting that they were justified on national security grounds despite the northern neighbor being a long-standing U.S. ally. It has announced that its government will impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports starting Oct. 25.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office declined to comment.