Trudeau won’t commit to US visit for talks on new trade deal

Justin Trudeau recently mentioned rumours that Trump could reimpose tariffs on Canadian aluminium. (AFP pic)

MONTREAL: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he was reluctant to go to Washington next week for a summit marking the entry into force of the new North American trade agreement, in part due to concerns over possible US tariffs on Canadian aluminium.

“We’re still in discussion with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said at a press briefing.

“We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminium and steel that the Americans have floated recently,” he said.

The United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement (USMCA) took effect on Wednesday, as borders between the countries are partially shut due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal replaced the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Trudeau said another source of concern with respect to the summit was the “virus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries”.

The United States is the worst-hit country in the world in the pandemic, with 2.7 million cases and more than 128,000 deaths.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will meet US President Donald Trump next week in Washington.

“I can confirm that we received an invitation from the government of the United States for an official work visit on July 8 and 9,” Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted Tuesday.

Earlier this week, Trudeau mentioned rumours that Trump could reimpose tariffs on Canadian aluminium, saying he had argued the United States needs the material for its automotive and high-tech industries.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress on June 17 the Trump administration was willing to take action when necessary against possible breaches of the new pact.