Trump's NAFTA tariff strategy crystalized

Courtesy MGN Gage Skidmore  CC BY-SA 2.0

But they also said that Canadian, Mexican and the technical staff of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer have remained focused on the task of overhauling the accord.

Canada, the United States and Mexico have been carrying out intense negotiations to redraft NAFTA since August 2017 after U.S. President Donald Trump said the deal has been unfair to the United States.

The Bank of Canada has said that uncertainty about the future of NAFTA is weighing increasingly on the outlook for Canada's economy. "It must be that way".

The latest round of negotiations was expected to wrap up yesterday in Mexico City.

If NAFTA fell apart, the victor would not be the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

Yes, Canada and Mexico are - for now - exempt from the 25 per cent duty on steel and the 10 per cent duty on aluminum the USA president announced Thursday.

Many Republican lawmakers, who so far are standing by the bombastic GOP president, are extremely frustrated by Trump's tariff talk. Trump signaled yesterday he'd hold the exemption as a bargaining chip to play if he didn't get what he wants for the USA out of the NAFTA negotiation.

Acknowledging the fears that Trump's surprise announcement last week could spark a trade war, Mnuchin also hinted that the final implementation may address some of the issues.

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President and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, Jean Simard, said the problem wasn't the export of Canadian aluminium to the USA, rather the export of aluminium from China.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said Canada and Mexico could be exempted from new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the US, subject to a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). By participating in these agreements, we can ensure we are writing the rules rather than allowing other world powers to take our place.

Canada and Mexico, Bonnett said, have taken a "co-ordinated" position to talks in which they don't try to "pit" one block against another.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a regular media briefing on Wednesday: "We expect that the president will sign something by the end of the week and there are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries as well based on that process".

Canada's aluminum and steel trade hangs in the balance. "First and foremost, we will discuss the issue with the United States".

Canada is now in talks to join the Pacific Alliance - a trade bloc including Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

The integration between both sides of the border goes back to the auto pact, signed even before the North American Free Trade Agreement, that acknowledged the United States needed Canadian parts to make cars, and vice versa.

The Trump administration launched a Section 232 investigation previous year into the impact of imported steel and aluminium on the U.S.' national security. Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, quit on Tuesday, giving free trade skeptics the upper hand in the White House.

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