Skip to main content

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while addressing a joint news conference with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in the Rose Garden of the White House on Monday.

KEVIN LAMARQUE/Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump is granting Canada and Mexico a “final” one-month break from his tariffs on steel and aluminum – and demanding that both countries agree to quotas that would limit Canadian and Mexican exports of the metals to the U.S.

Mr. Trump issued proclamations around 9 p.m. Monday extending the tariff exemptions to June 1.

The President announced levies of 25 per cent on all imports of steel and 10 per cent on aluminum in early March, but granted temporary exemptions to several U.S. allies. The exemptions were due to expire Tuesday.

Story continues below advertisement

In the case of Canada and Mexico, Mr. Trump threatened to impose the tariffs if the two countries did not agree to a renegotiated North American free-trade agreement. Top officials from the three countries are scheduled to reconvene in Washington next week for further negotiations.

The U.S. has granted a permanent exemption to one country, South Korea, after it agreed to limit the amount of steel it sends to the United States. The European Union also received a one-month extension to its exemption Monday, while Brazil, Argentina and Australia received indefinite exemptions, pending negotiations with the U.S.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is “confident” the Trump administration sees the importance of granting Canada an exemption from U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, which are set to take effect Tuesday. The Canadian Press

In a press release Monday, the White House said the newly extended exemption for Canada, Mexico and the EU would be the last.

“In all of these negotiations, the Administration is focused on quotas that will restrain imports, prevent transshipment, and protect the national security,” the release said.

Adding steel and aluminum quotas to the NAFTA bargaining table would insert another tough subject into an already fraught negotiation.

In NAFTA talks, the U.S. is currently demanding more stringent rules on the continental auto industry with the goal of stopping companies from sourcing parts from countries outside the NAFTA zone and driving auto jobs away from Mexico and back to the United States.

The Trump administration has also proposed tough new measures to limit the amount of U.S. government contracting Canadian and Mexican firms can bid on, a gutting of NAFTA’s dispute resolution system and dismantling Canada’s protectionist supply-management system for milk, eggs and dairy.

Story continues below advertisement

Still, Canada’s steel industry welcomed the news Monday evening.

“We are happy with the extension and looking forward to discussions with the U.S. on what a full, permanent exemption - which would benefit businesses and employees on both sides of the boarder - would look like,” said Joseph Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association.

The steel and aluminum tariffs are mostly aimed at keeping cheap Chinese steel from flooding the U.S. market, but would disproportionately hurt Canada, which is the U.S.’s largest supplier. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised last week to spend more money on more rigorous border inspections to stop foreign steel and aluminum from circumventing U.S. tariffs by passing through Canada – a bid to win over Washington by showing Ottawa is serious about helping Mr. Trump fight overseas imports.

The President is using national security as the grounds for the tariffs, arguing that the U.S. needs to beef up its domestic industry so it does not have to rely on foreign countries for the metal to build its tanks and ships. But Ottawa has argued that, as a long-time U.S. ally, it poses no threat at all.

At an event at the Canadian embassy in Washington last week, ambassador David MacNaughton said that Mr. Trump’s officials in the office of the U.S. trade representative have even privately admitted to him that Canada is not the target of the tariffs – even if it risks getting hit hard.

“USTR people keep saying to me ‘Well, you know, we’re not really trying to get at you. We’re trying to get at some of the, you know, in the far east,’” he said. “And I say, ‘Well, why are you punching me in the nose, then, if you’re trying to get at them?’”

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter