The United States is close to resolving its differences with Mexico and Canada over metal tariffs, US Treasury Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday May 15th. Instead, she just noted "Canada believes in the new [USMCA] agreement that we reached with the United States and Mexico", and "we very much hope it can be ratified in all of our countries, although the domestic processes are up to each country".
"We made the case as we have been doing for some time that the best outcome for both Canadians and Americans would be to lift those tariffs and to have free trade between our two countries who have this fantastic trading relationship in place", she told reporters after the meeting in Washington.
While Mr. Mnuchin's comments are positive for thousands of Canadians in those sectors suffering through reduced economic activity, they are by no means precise, and no clear breakdown has been given as of yet on what a compromise between the three nations would look like. And then: "OK, I think we need to leave for Cuba soon". Join the conversation by commenting below!
Mnuchin said he has also spoken to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and their Mexican counterpart about the tariffs, but that Lighthizer is actively leading discussions on them.
The steep USA tariffs on steel and aluminum that Washington imposed last year on national security grounds have become a major stumbling block on the road to ratifying a new North American trade pact that the three countries negotiated last year.
"I think we had a constructive meeting with the vice premier", Mr Mnuchin told lawmakers Wednesday, referring to last week's brief meetings with Chinese trade envoy Liu He.
With US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mnuchin has led the US delegation in 11 rounds of shuttle diplomacy aimed at resolving the US-China trade war. A top Trump administration cabinet member says the end of punishing steel and aluminium tariffs on Canada and Mexico is close at hand.
Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a telephone call with US Vice President Mike Pence also "stressed the importance of their removal" while exchanging views on USMCA ratification.
Pelosi and fellow Democrats in the House have raised concerns about ratifying the new trade deal because of concerns over labour rights in Mexico, among other things.
Asked about prospects for a deal, Freeland said she would not discuss Canada's negotiating strategy.