Trudeau presses Trump to lift tariffs before ratifying the T-MEC

The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. EFE / Archive

WASHINGTON.- The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, on Thursday urged US President Donald Trump to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum, something that the Canadian government wants to achieve before its Parliament ratify the T-MEC trade agreement with the USA and Mexico.

During a telephone conversation between the two, Trump also pledged to support Trudeau in his efforts to get China to release two Canadian citizens who were arrested last year, after Canada arrested Huawei’s financial director, Meng Wanzhou, by petition from the USA

According to a statement released by the White House, Trump and Trudeau spoke «about the T-MEC and about the trade negotiations between the United States and China.»

The Trudeau office said, meanwhile, that they talked about «the progress towards ratification of the new free trade agreement of North America, and the strength of the economic alliance between the United States and Canada, which is mutually beneficial.»

«The prime minister raised the issue of US tariffs on steel and aluminum, and reiterated the importance of their withdrawal,» Trudeau’s office said.

In the last month, several Canadian officials have signaled that the Parliament of their country is not willing to ratify the T-MEC while the tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum imports remain standing. USA imposed last year on neighboring countries.

Canada and Mexico trusted that the US It would lift those tariffs when the T-MEC agreement was signed, but Washington did not give up, and does not seem willing to do so now.

US Vice President Mike Pence said in late April that the question of whether or not Trump is rethinking tariffs on Mexico and Canada «can be evaluated later» on whether the parliaments of the three countries ratify the T- MEC.

That trade pact is a modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that the three countries negotiated for a year as a result of Trump’s criticisms of the current agreement, which they finally signed in December in Buenos Aires.

In the United States, the road to ratification overcame an obstacle last week, when Mexico approved a labor reform that the Democratic opposition had put as a condition to give the green light to the trade pact in the House of Representatives, but there is still no vote scheduled about the agreement.

Trudeau also discussed with Trump the case of the «arbitrary detention» of two Canadian citizens, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, accused of activities against Chinese national security.

«The president (Trump) expressed the firm commitment of the United States to support Canada in its efforts to achieve fair treatment and the release of Canadian citizens currently detained in China,» the White House said.

His call came on a key day for business negotiations between the United States. and China, just hours from the expected increase of 10% today to 25% of US tariffs on Chinese imports valued at 200,000 million dollars.

US negotiating chiefs, Robert Lighthizer, and China, Vice Premier Liu He, met in Washington today to try to achieve a last-minute trade agreement that would dissuade Trump from raising tariffs.

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