U.S. President Donald Trump, during a phone call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, discussed trade and current negotiations in Mexico City on the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.
“President Trump emphasized his commitment to a NAFTA agreement that was fair to all three countries, noting the current agreement leaves the United States with a trade deficit,” the statement said.
According to a Canadian government official who spoke with Reuters on the condition of remaining anonymous, Trudeau talked about the proposed steel and aluminum tariffs with Trump.
The official added that the two leaders had a constructive conversation. Canada has threatened to retaliate if Trump goes ahead this week and imposes the tariffs.
“As a key NORAD and NATO ally, and as the number one customer of American steel, Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminum as absolutely unacceptable,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement.
On Monday Trump appeared to suggest that Canada and Mexico could win exemptions to his planned sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum if the two countries sign a new NAFTA trade deal and take other steps.
He made the comments as the United States, Canada, and Mexico were wrapping up their latest round of talks on revamping the 1994 NAFTA deal.
To protect our Country we must protect American Steel! #AMERICA FIRST
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2018
“We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” Trump tweeted.
A letter from nine Canadian steel executives sent to Trudeau and other government ministers last week warned that the tariff could displace 13 million tonnes of steel currently sold in the United States.
The letter, seen by Reuters, called for targeted trade cases and also raised the possibility of new legislation to defend the industry.
With files from Reuters