Trudeau urges Trump to remove steel tariffs at G-20 trade agreement signing

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday urged President Trump to remove steel and aluminum tariffs implemented by the U.S. earlier this year during public remarks at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Argentina.

{mosads}Speaking at a ceremony for the signing of an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trudeau called on the U.S. to remove tariffs that affect Canadian steel and aluminum exports, which the Canadian prime minister has in the past called an “affront” to Canada and its longstanding relationship with the United States.

“Donald, it’s all the more reason why we need to keep working to remove the tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries,” Trudeau said Friday.


Trudeau’s remarks occurred during a signing ceremony for the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, an updated trade agreement for the North American countries that the Trump administration hopes to see ratified by Congress in the following months.

Trump has pushed for an updated trade deal with Canada and Mexico for months amid tariff disputes with the two countries that Trump has accused of ripping the U.S. off for years on issues of international trade.

Trump noted that getting to the agreement had been a “battle” and said that “battles sometimes make great friendships.”

Issues of steel and aluminum tariffs have been of particular prominence between the two leaders, with Trudeau calling the tariffs “totally unacceptable” earlier this year and scorching the Trump administration for citing “national security” as reasoning for the tariffs.

“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Trudeau said in May. “Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.”

“That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable,” he added.

Trump has levied his own attacks at Trudeau over the past several months, and took aim at the Canadian prime minister personally upon departing a Group of 7 (G-7) summit hosted by Canada.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around,’” Trump tweeted in June. “Very dishonest & weak.”

On Friday the president touted his updated agreement at the signing ceremony, calling it a “well-reviewed” agreement despite possible opposition from several senators including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).

“This is a model agreement that changes the trade landscape forever. And this is an agreement that first and foremost benefits working people,” Trump said. 

“It’s been so well-reviewed, I don’t expect to have very much of a problem [getting it passed in the Senate],” the president added.

Warren, who this week called the deal “NAFTA 2.0,” said labor protections in the agreement do not go far enough to satisfy concerns from progressive Democrats. 

“NAFTA 2.0 has better labor standards on paper but it doesn’t give American workers enough tools to enforce those standards,” she said Thursday. “Without swift and certain enforcement of these new labor standards, big corporations will continue outsourcing jobs to Mexico so they can pay workers less.”

“I oppose NAFTA 2.0, and will vote against it in the Senate unless President Trump reopens the agreement and produces a better deal for America’s working families,” Warren added.

Trump is also expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit this week to discuss the mounting trade tensions between the two countries. The U.S. is expected to boost tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent within weeks, though the administration says its eager to strike a deal with Beijing.

Sylvan Lane contributed.

–Updated at 8:45 a.m.

Tags Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren G20 summit NAFTA renegotiation Tariffs Trade

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