According to sources at the heart of talks between the United States and Canadian governments, the likelihood of Ottawa accepting quotas or other import limits in exchange for an exception to the blanket tariffs on aluminium and steel is approximately zero.
An unnamed source who spoke with Canadian media last week characterized the idea of quotas as dead on arrival at the feet of Canada’s trade negotiators.
“They’re trying to get us to agree to a quota system, which we’re not going to do, because it’s ridiculous,” the source explained to The Canadian Press.
“They know what they need to do to get a deal. The ball is entirely in their court.”
However, others who spoke anonymously with Canadian media differed, saying quotas may still be an alternative. According to those sources, the Trump Administration is motivated to complete negotiations before the November 6 midterm elections which, depending upon the outcome, may alter the playing field for a three-way trade agreement.
One aspect of the talks that won’t change is the apparently dim view of PM Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government harbored by the Trump Administration, especially from the U.S. Trade Representative.
“The USTR really does not like Canada,” explained Carlo Dade of the Canada West Foundation.
“They’ve got a hate on for us, and they’ve had a hate on for us for a long time.”
While others characterize the distaste as purely theatrics, few question the urgency faced by the Trump Administration to ink a trilateral trade deal with Canada and Mexico. Even fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone on record with a call to make a deal, noting the ongoing harm experienced by domestic manufacturers by the intertwined trade sanctions.
“There is a strong call in the heartland for the president to lift those tariffs and end the retaliation by Mexico and Canada, particularly the countermeasures against U.S. farm country,” opined American international trade lawyer Dan Uczjo to the CBC.
“It is our understanding that the president is hearing about the pain inflicted by these tariffs as he hits the campaign circuit in Iowa, Ohio and other U.S. battleground regions.”