Canada’s ambassador to Washington on Friday struck an optimistic tone over a dispute with the United States over steel and aluminum tariffs, saying he thought both sides would resolve their differences “sooner rather than later.”
David MacNaughton made his remarks to a business audience in the Ontario town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Canadian officials said earlier in the month they were downbeat about the chances of a quick solution.
The Trump administration imposed the tariffs on imports of the metals from Canada and Mexico in June, citing national security reasons. MacNaughton said it was clear the tariffs had been a tool to exert pressure during talks to update a continental trade deal, which concluded last month.
“Now that we’ve come to an agreement, there is no need for those tariffs to be in place ... I think that we will resolve this sooner rather than later,” MacNaughton said.
Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, said that Trump is reviewing the tariffs meant to protect U.S. industry.
“That is not something that is against Canada, it’s just something that’s protecting North America from other countries that will be passing raw materials through, and also to protect our steel industry at home,” she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has discussed the revamped North American free trade deal with Mexico’s incoming president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who begins his term on Dec. 1.
In a statement Friday, Trudeau said he spoke Thursday with president-elect about the agreement, which “removes uncertainty and supports stronger investment and exports.”
The two leaders also touched on disputed American steel and aluminum tariffs. Canada and Mexico responded to the tariffs by imposing their own retaliatory levies on U.S. imports.
The leaders of the three nations are due to sign the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement at a Group of 20 summit in Argentina that starts at the end of November.
With files from The Canadian Press