Though Canadian officials are optimistic that the Trump Administration’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium are soon to be lifted, they warned that the tariffs may still stall ratification of NAFTA’s replacement treaty.
In comments made to domestic media last Thursday, Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau is still considering putting the brakes on ratification of the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) until after the controversial tariffs are ended.
“We will, as you know, look at the implementation after the 18th of March, but what I’m saying to you is that we will be doing some serious thinking about whether we want to proceed forward with it … you know the situation with respect to steel and aluminum is not yet resolved.”
“I’m not saying that it’s a showstopper, but it certainly is an impediment because we have a good deal with the United States and — without the tariffs in place — we’re very happy with the deal,” he concluded.
As it happens, the tariffs on the dominion’s aluminium and steel may already be on the way out. Per Canadian ambassador David MacNaughton, the tariffs’ end is within sight.
Speaking to the media at a Washington appearance, MacNaughton said that the tariffs are singularly disfavored by American workers and politicians.
“We’ll get there in the next few weeks,” he revealed. “We’re getting there.”
MacNaughton said he has met with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and several U.S. Congress members over the past several weeks, to good effect. However, the ambassador declined to elaborate further upon his reasoning.
In place almost a full year, the Section 232 tariffs were initiated after a yearlong investigation into the effect upon low-cost imported aluminium and steel. The blanket tariffs have proven significantly unpopular, leading to challenges by foreign governments around the world. Canadian smelters were initially granted a reprieve, but an inability to come to terms with the White House on a longer deal led to the exemption’s end last summer.