Trump says deal with Mexico and Canada cuts tariffs

The U.S. has reportedly reached a deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico. The tariffs – to be lifted in 48 hours – have been a roadblock to approving the US Mexico Canada Agreement. President Trump told a group of realtors Friday an agreement with Canada and Mexico makes it possible to sell them products with no tariffs.

“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico and will be selling our products into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs,” Trump told the realtors group Friday afternoon.

“[The tariff] was a barrier to our farmers being able to business with them, to our farmers being sell product in there,” said Trump, “so that deal is going to be a fantastic deal for our country, and hopefully Congress will approve the USMCA quickly.”

The deal calls for Mexico and Canada to prevent Chinese steel from being shipped to the U.S. through their countries.

The announcement was called a “big win for American agriculture and the economy as a whole,” according to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

“I thank President Trump for negotiating a great deal and for negotiating the removal of these tariffs,” said the secretary in a prepared statement. “Canada and Mexico are two of our top three trading partners, and it is my expectation that they will immediately pull back their retaliatory tariffs against our agricultural products. Congress should move swiftly to ratify the USMCA so American farmers can begin to benefit from the agreement.”

Senate Republicans, including Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have said they would not approve the USMCA while the tariffs were in place.

“The biggest hurdle to ratifying USMCA has been lifted. This is great news for farmers across the country,” said Senator Grassley. “I made no secret that these tariffs had to be lifted for USMCA to pass Congress. The Trump administration has done its part. Now it’s Congress’s turn.”

In Grassley’s view, the USMCA is better for American workers, farmers, manufacturers and service providers than its predecessor NAFTA.

“Lifting these tariffs clears the path to passage in all three countries. I’m optimistic that this renewed sense of momentum will carry USMCA across the finish line.”

Grassley had been a vocal opponent of the continued metal tariffs on Mexico and Canada. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last month, Grassley said, “If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead.”

There has been positive reaction to the announcement from farm and commodity groups.

“We thank the administration for ending a trade dispute that has placed enormous financial strain on American pork producers,” said David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina, and president of the National Pork Producers Council. “Mexico’s 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork has cost our producers $12 per animal, or $1.5 billion on an annualized, industry-wide basis. Removing the metal tariffs restores zero-tariff trade to U.S. pork’s largest export market and allows NPPC to focus more resources on working toward ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which preserves zero-tariff trade for U.S. pork in North America.”

 Canada and Mexico are the two top food and ag markets for the U.S., buying nearly a third of U.S. ag exports. 

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