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Trump Trade War – NAFTA unresolved and steel tariff threat looms on Canada

Canada’s foreign minister is in Washington this week to avert an economic storm that could see Canada sideswiped by crippling US tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, if President Donald Trump follows through on his latest threat not to extend an exemption for Canada and Mexico which is due to expire Friday. Freeland emerged Tuesday from a meeting with US trade czar Robert Lighthizer with the threat of both problems still hovering in the oppressive Washington humidity. She insisted the steel issue remains separate from the renegotiation of NAFTA, a deal that Trump has repeatedly blasted and threatened to rip up. She said “Canada has said from the outset, this is in our view entirely separate from the NAFTA negotiation.”

American trade analysts say there’s an obvious connection, but Freeland may be downplaying it in an attempt to bargain effectively. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, said in an interview Tuesday that “Everything in Trump world is linked, ultimately. In that context Minister Freeland is making a big push for aluminum and steel exemptions. The Trump administration could well say we feel we have made enough progress on NAFTA in order to give an exemption to Canada and Mexico.”

Dan Ujczo, an American trade lawyer with Dickinson Wright PLLC, said the main focus on Freeland’s trip has to be securing the steel and aluminum exemption by Friday because NAFTA’s not getting through Congress this year anyway.
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