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NAFTA nations reaching "understanding" on steel and aluminum tariff removal

18 May 2019

USA officials have insisted they will only lift the tariffs if Canada and Mexico accept quotas or other mechanisms that would avoid them becoming a conduit for cheap steel entering the US from other countries including China.

"We made the case as we have been doing for some time that the best outcome for both Canadians and Americans would be to lift those tariffs and to have free trade between our two countries who have this fantastic trading relationship in place", she told reporters after the meeting in Washington. The three countries' negotiators ultimately reached a new deal that the Americans call the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

"I think we are close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada" on removing steel and aluminum tariffs, Mnuchin told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

On Wednesday, Freeland will travel to Washington to press for a lifting of the tariffs in meetings with officials including US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Senator Chuck Grassley. He not provide any details about the potential agreement.

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Canada, Mexico and a number of USA lawmakers view the lifting of the tariffs imposed last year as a condition for ratification of USMCA, which would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

Despite all the talks and rumors that the US is close to lifting steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrysita Freeland left no hints on the progress after she met US Trade representative Robert Lighthizer yesterday.

Mexico says it has prepared a revised list of products to spread the pain to different sectors of the US economy if necessary, but has yet to apply them.

Mr Lighthizer also was due to meet with congressional leaders later Wednesday, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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With Mr Lighthizer, Mr Mnuchin has led the United States delegation in 11 rounds of shuttle diplomacy aimed at resolving the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.

"I can assure you that Canada and Mexico are the priority", Mnuchin said. "As I've said, my expectation is we will most likely go to Beijing at some point in the near future to continue those discussions and I think it's President Trump's expectation to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 at the end of June".

"There's still a lot of work to do", he added.

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NAFTA nations reaching