Trudeau warns he may skip USMCA summit over US tariff threat, pandemic

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned Friday he may skip a summit in Washington next week with President Trump and Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador over the coronavirus pandemic and the Trump administration’s threats of tariffs.

Speaking at a press conference near Ottawa, Trudeau said his government was still in touch with American officials over the summit scheduled for July 8-9, which is set to celebrate the newly-implemented United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement. 

“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently. We’re also concerned about the health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries,” he said.

Trudeau later noted that conversations with U.S. officials included discussions on the state of the coronavirus outbreak, which has worsened in recent weeks.

The announcement comes amid reports that the U.S. is pressuring Canada to impose quotas on its aluminum exports or risk the re-imposition of a 10 percent tariff.

Washington had slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on national security grounds before lifting them in 2019 on the condition that they could be reintroduced “in the event that imports of aluminum or steel products surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade over a period of time.” 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing last month that there have been recent spikes in imported steel and aluminum, “substantially from Canada, some from Mexico.”

Trudeau has warned against placing levies on Canadian exports, saying the tariffs could end up hurting U.S. manufacturers.

“We have heard obviously the musings and proposals from the United States [that] perhaps there needs to be more tariffs on aluminum,” he said Monday. “What we simply highlight is the United States needs Canadian aluminum. They do not produce enough, nowhere near enough aluminum in the States, to be able to fill their domestic manufacturing needs.”

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Justin Trudeau Justin Trudeau Robert Lighthizer Trump tariffs United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement
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