Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Trump spoke with Canada's Trudeau about tariffs, NAFTA talks: White House

Trump spoke with Canada's Trudeau about tariffs, NAFTA talks: White House

Trudeau said the national security argument the USA has made when it comes to considering tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum makes no sense - a refrain he's hammered in recent weeks.

While Trump did eventually live up to his word that he would exclude Canada, the Trudeau government has spent the past year lobbying USA government officials for the exemption. In Trudeau's view, the US wasn't just helping Canada - it helped itself by refraining from slapping tariffs on its No. 1 supplier of both steel and aluminum.

U.S. President Donald Trump greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 11, 2017.

"As I said to the congressional leadership, as I said to the president last week: We are always happy to better co-ordinate and to work together to do even more to ensure that we are protecting the North American steel industry".

A heavy lobbying blitz by Canada after the tariffs were first announced March 1 helped convince the USA administration to exempt Canadian steel when the final announcement was made last week.

NAFTA talks might now enter an intense phase: "President Trump emphasized the importance of quickly concluding the ongoing NAFTA negotiations", said a readout from the White House on Monday's call with Trudeau.

Trudeau told another USA network that he sees them as separate issues: "We don't link together the tariffs and the negotiations with NAFTA", he told CNBC in an interview from a Quebec aluminum plant Monday.

Trudeau says he will keep the pressure on Trump during the tariff negotiations, as well as on negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement. "We will continue working toward securing a definite and permanent exemption from those tariffs", Trudeau said earlier.

"Our aluminum is in their fighter jets ‎our steel. goes into their armoured vehicles", he said.

"There is no better security partner to the United States than Canada is so that whole issue of national security is off the table".

Other stops will include Hamilton, Sault Ste.

Trudeau's comments came during a tour of Canadian steel-producing towns, where he is showing support for workers in the industry. Marie, Ont., and Regina this week.

Trump and Trudeau spoke by phone on Monday ahead of the interview.

But the US government also wants to make sure cheap steel being dumped into North America by Brazil, South Korea, China and other countries doesn't enter the United States through a Canadian back door.

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