November 26, 2018

USMCA Signing Will Happen Despite Steel, Aluminum Tariff Standoff

On Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that, with President Donald Trump, they will sign the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on Friday, Nov. 30 on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The news came despite renewed tensions about the United States’ Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Last week, representatives of the Mexican government said they would insist the United States eliminate the steel and aluminum penalties before the trilateral trade deal between the three countries was signed. As Connecting the Dots noted last week, Canadian officials also had been pushing for the tariffs to be eliminated before the deal was signed. (Indeed, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said again last week that she believes tariffs were “illegal and unjustified.”)

Kenneth Smith, Mexico’s head negotiator for the trade agreement, told reporters, “We are working to find a solution. We have the arguments, we have presented alternatives in terms of how we can solve this, and we hope to resolve it before Nov. 30.” There is no such deal, but Mexican and Canadian officials will continue to press to undo the tariffs, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in a call last Thursday, though those talks are moving on a “separate track” than the USMCA.

According to Canada’s Financial Post, U.S. officials want to replace the tariffs with quotas instead of eliminating them outright. Canadian and Mexican officials have yet to agree to that plan.