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AG and Business Groups Urge Tying Loose Ends in Trade

US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

An ad hoc coalition of more than 45 agriculture and business organizations in a Jan. 23 letter to Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce, and Robert Lighthizer, U.S. trade representative, called for an end to U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican aluminum and steel imports so the United States may realize the fullest possible benefits from the recently negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (U.S.M.C.A).

The Trump administration on June 1, 2018, raised tariffs on imported steel and aluminum by 25% and 10%, respectively, pointing to national security considerations. Imports of the metals from Canada and Mexico were included in the trade action. Mexico and Canada subsequently retaliated by raising tariffs on several U.S. products, including farm products.

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Most U.S. farm and business interests hoped there would be a resolution to the steel and aluminum dispute with Canada and Mexico during the course of the drawn-out and often acrimonious U.S.M.C.A. negotiations. Certainly, this seemed to be the hope of Canadian and Mexican negotiators as well, especially in view of the fact the Trump administration exempted certain other nations from the raised tariffs in exchange for trade concessions.

Leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico signed the U.S.M.C.A. on Nov. 30, 2018, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The agreement, if approved by the parliaments of the three nations, would succeed the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.

But the United States left in place its tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum, and as a result, Canada and Mexico left in place their retaliatory tariffs on certain U.S. products.

The business and agricultural organizations in their letter urged the Trump administration to lift the metals tariffs applying to Canada and Mexico so those nations, in turn, would rescind their raised duties on U.S. goods. The groups said they want the metals dispute resolved soon so they can turn their undivided attention toward generating congressional support for the U.S.M.C.A., which is required by law.

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