By Jonathan Martin
The U.S. lifted its nearly year-old import duties on Canadian steel and aluminum Monday in what ag groups are calling an “incredible success for the agri-food sector.”
The Canadian government responded by lifting its tariffs on more than 70 U.S. products including licorice, coffee, ketchup, steel and aluminum. Over the last year, Canada collected more than $1.27 billion from retaliatory duties on American products.
U.S. president Donald Trump imposed trade levies on Canada, Mexico and the European Union on June 1, 2018, citing “national security” as his primary motivator.
“I instructed Secretary (of Commerce Wilbur) Ross to consider initiating a(n) investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security,” Trump said in a May 2018 statement. “Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation.”
At the time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the allegations that Canada’s steel and aluminum might compromise U.S. security “inconceivable.”
Trudeau and Trump spoke about the countries’ tariffs last week and “agreed to keep in close touch on these and other important issues,” a readout of the call noted.
Both countries officially lifted their respective tariffs a few days later.
Trump tweeted late Sunday that U.S. farmers “can begin doing business again with Mexico and Canada.”
Brian Innes, president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), congratulated both sides for the “positive development.”
“We are pleased that the U.S. is removing these punitive tariffs and that Canada will also remove its retaliatory duties,” he said in a statement. “This is good news for free trade in North America.
“We are hopeful this agreement paves the way for the ratification of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) which will create even greater opportunities across the North American market.”
Movement toward ratifying CUSMA, often referred to as the new NAFTA, stalled after the U.S. imposed tariffs.
The deal is designed to “update provisions and address twenty-first century trade issues,” a Canadian government information package said.