Though the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico have reached a last-minute accord on free trade, the Trump administration’s Section 232 tariffs on aluminium and steel will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
“There are problems specific to steel and aluminum relating to our national defense, and at this point of time, those stay the same,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in an interview with domestic media.
He continued by noting that there has not been established a timeline for their removal.
“For that matter, there’s also a provision in here that if we put in a [Section] 232 on automobiles in the future, there will be an exemption of current levels from within the Canadian, Mexican manufacturing,” he elaborated.
United States President Donald Trump addressed the issue in a press conference yesterday, explaining that the tariffs shall remain, but swapping them with quotas continues to be an option.
The Section 232 tariffs will continue “until such time as we can do something that would be different, like quotas, perhaps, so that our industry is protected,” said Trump. “We are working on that now, that wasn’t part of this.”
Negotiators from each of the three governments are in talks now “with an effort to try preserving the effect of our program and still take care of their needs,” explained U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “Hopefully we’ll be able to work that out.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a press conference yesterday that, though the tariffs will stay in place for the moment, there’s light at the end of the negotiating tunnel.
“We also recognize that moving forward on eliminating the tariffs on steel and aluminum remains a priority for us, for Mexico, and is something the Americans have indicated they’re more than willing to work on,” he opined.