Sources say Canada’s year-long standoff with the Trump administration over punitive U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs is finally over, removing a key hurdle in efforts to ratify the new North American trade pact.
Word of the agreement began to trickle out amid reports that U.S. negotiators had backed off long-standing demands for a hard limit on imports of Canadian steel and aluminum, part of an effort to keep cheap Chinese product out of the country.
Late this morning, President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up their third phone call in less than a week on the tariff dispute, including Canada’s decision to retaliate with more than $16 billion of its own punitive levies on American products.
The Trudeau government branded the tariffs as illegal, absurd and insulting, while Canada and Mexico said it would be tough to ratify the new continental free trade agreement — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — if they remain in place.
Ottawa has also been working to demonstrate to Washington that it has taken steps to stem the flow of cheaper Chinese metals into the Canada.
But Canada has stood firm with the U.S. on one key, related point: it has steadfastly refused to agree to quotas or other limits on its exports in order to get the tariffs lifted.
Canadian sources have described the idea of a quota system as a non-starter and a concession that Canada was not prepared to make.