The governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico concluded 14 months of trade tensions on Friday with the announcement of deals to eliminate the Section 232 blanket tariffs on aluminium and steel imposed by the Trump Administration over a year ago.
The new agreements, which do not impose import quotas on aluminium and steel, represents a step toward legislative approval of the newly-negotiated USMCA agreement, which is intended to replace NAFTA.
In addition to removing an obstacle to ratification of USMCA, the agreement also ends retaliatory tariffs levied by Mexico and Canada against a wide range of United States exports, including meat, produce, and liquor.
Praise for the deal came from many corners, including from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who has been a frequent and vocal critic of the tariffs which exacted a particularly acute impact upon his Iowan constituents.
Thank u Mr President for really helping the farmers of Iowa w this important step in USMCA. w lifting metal tariffs @realdonaldtrump just proved he can deliver on negotiations China ought to take note/start dealing in good faith & take Pres Trump seriously
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 17, 2019
“This is just pure good news for Canadians,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reporters shortly after the deal was announced on Friday. Trudeau went on to say that his government would begin to liaise with Washington, D.C. on USMCA’s ratification, stating that his government would “be able to move forward well in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, United States Vice President Mike Pence announced over the weekend a meeting with Trudeau to work toward “advancing” ratification of the trade agreement.
Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America Jesus Seade said the agreement “measurably increases the probability” that his government would ratify the USMCA prior to the United States Congress goes on summer break in August. Ratification prior to summer break may be critical for the success of the treaty, as some expect budget talks and the presidential race to take center stage when next Congress convenes.
Though many legislators from the opposite side of the aisle greeted the breakthrough on tariffs with approval, some said hurdles still remained between this weekend’s agreement on tariffs and USMCA’s ratification.
“When it comes to the new agreement, House Democrats continue to have a number of substantial concerns related to labor, environment, enforcement, and access to affordable medicines provisions,” explained House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. “Those issues still need to be remedied.”