Trump stresses desire for quick NAFTA deal in phone chat with Trudeau

Kelly Barichello

President Donald Trump spoke on Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the steel and aluminum import tariffs Trump announced last week, the White House said.

The prime minister is touring aluminum and steel production facilities, pledging support for workers after the US president exempted Canada and Mexico from the protectionist measures.

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.

The prime minister is on a cross-country tour of aluminum and steel factories to demonstrate his government's support for workers in light of potential threats to those industries from the US administration. Canadian steel is in your tanks.

ArcelorMittal Dofasco CEO Sean Donnelly gives Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a tour of the ArcelorMittal Dofasco steel plant with in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2018.

The steel tariff threat was seen by many to be an attempt by the Trump administration to pressure Canada and Mexico to complete the NAFTA talks - giving in to other USA demands or giving up some of their own -rather than risk the punishing steel and aluminum duties.

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The Trump administration has set tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, applicable to every country except Canada and Mexico. He is scheduled to tour steel mills in Hamilton, Sault Ste.

Trump's eagerness to seal the deal of NAFTA came months after the U.S. and Canada were on the loggerheads on this issue.

"We are alert to that, we are working with partners in industry, with our American partners, to ensure that does not happen", Trudeau said of so-called transshipment. He also credited Trump for keeping a promise: he said the president told him at last year's G7 that Canada would get an exemption, and kept his word.

Canada is the United States' largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed to the country.

His comments came amid rising global trade tensions in the wake of a USA decision to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

Mr. Trudeau said that the consequences of putting tariffs on steel and aluminum in Canada "would mean pain for workers here in Canada but also job losses and difficulties for workers and their families in the United States", he said.

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