Transport Minister Marc Garneau is warning U.S. lawmakers that Canada will struggle to ratify the new North American trade deal if U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum exports remain in place much longer.
Garneau, taking part in a free-trade panel at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, says time is running out for Parliament to ratify the agreement and he doesn’t know if it will happen without the tariffs being lifted.
He calls it “illogical” that the White House is using national security to justify the tariffs, imposed last May and still in place despite the signing last year of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an updated version of NAFTA.
But he also says Canada will move “expeditiously” once the tariffs are lifted.
Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump’s economic adviser and one of Garneau’s fellow panellists, made a point of telling the minister directly that the Trump administration is hard at work to resolve the tariff issue.
U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton said last week he believes the tariffs could be lifted in a matter of weeks, but refused to provide additional details.
Trump ended a Canadian exemption from the tariffs last spring in a move he later acknowledged was a negotiating tactic, and the president has also said the tariffs would be lifted once the deal was signed.
The Canadian Press