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October 1, 2018

U.S., Canada Reach Trade Agreement

Canadian and U.S. negotiators continued discussions throughout the weekend to come to an agreement to save the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the United States was prepared to move forward without Canada. Going into the weekend, it was thought that the White House would do just that, sending text of a trade agreement with Mexico only to the U.S. House and Senate for consideration, but on Sunday evening it was announced that the two countries had reached an accord. The text of the pact is available here.

The next step in the process will be for the White House to send text of the agreement to Congress for review and approval. Republicans are hoping lawmakers can pass the agreement before the next Congress convenes next January, but that timeline will be difficult to meet. It is more likely that the House and Senate will debate this deal in 2019. Importantly, the agreement with Canada does not address the U.S. Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, or the tariffs Canada had placed on U.S. metals products. Leaders of the two countries have said they will continue to negotiate about what to do about those penalties.

As a reminder, the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) has sent a letter to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump asking them to keep lines of communication open until there is a deal between the two countries and Mexico.

MSCI also encourages its members to discuss their opinions about the issue with lawmakers. The Canadian government continues to operate a webpage for stakeholders to submit their views on NAFTA. MSCI members in the United States who are interested in weighing in on NAFTA deliberations should contact their representatives in the U.S. House and Senate to let them know how altering or eliminating NAFTA would affect their businesses, employees, and customers. Click here for contact information for every member of the House and here for senators. MSCI’s comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding NAFTA reauthorization are here.

Also of interest: the Congressional Research Service released an overview of NAFTA modernization discussions at the end of July. The report includes a review of all of the issues being discussed.