The United States has reached a deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, removing one key obstacle to passing updates to the North American Free Trade Agreement, two people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
The U.S. could announce an agreement to scrap the duties as soon as Friday, the sources said. It is unclear whether the U.S. will put import quotas or other measures in place as part of the deal to remove tariffs.
The Canadian and Mexican governments, along with top U.S. lawmakers, have pushed the Trump administration to remove the tariffs before the countries approve the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Friday about the duties on metals and the tariffs Canada slapped on U.S. goods in retaliation, according to a spokesman for Trudeau.
Trudeau was expected to speak to steelworkers on Friday afternoon.
A worker walks past a steel coil loaded on a truck, at a plant in Monterrey, Mexico on August 27, 2018.
Julio Cesar Aguilar | AFP | Getty Images
Trump cited a national security threat when he put respective tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports last year. When the White House decided not to exempt Canada and Mexico, the U.S. neighbors and some members of Congress questioned why the allies posed a threat to the U.S.
The deal could boost Trump’s hopes of getting the USMCA, one of his top policy priorities, through Congress. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, among others, pushed him to remove the tariffs before lawmakers ratify the trade agreement.
The deal still faces its hurdles: Democrats have raised concerns about environmental and labor provisions in USMCA, as well as how it could affect drug prices in the U.S. Mexico passed a labor law last month in part to address those concerns.
On Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. The negotiators were expected to discuss a process for removing the tariffs.
The Trump administration aims to send paperwork to Congress soon, which could set up a vote on USMCA before lawmakers leave for the entire month of August.
The White House’s recent escalation of a trade war with China rattled investors and raised concerns about damage to businesses and consumers. But developments Friday boosted markets.
Before reports of the deal to remove steel and aluminum tariffs, the Trump administration said it would delay tariffs on imports of cars and auto parts from Europe, Japan and other countries.
Correction: An earlier version misstated when Trudeau was set to speak to steelworkers. It was Friday afternoon.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.