QUEBEC — The Trudeau government has told U.S. President Donald Trump he needs to get rid of the punishing U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum if there is any hope of successfully renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that message was communicated clearly to Trump during his meetings at the G7 summit with fellow leaders, and in his face-to-face talk with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Before departing the G7 summit in Quebec on Saturday, Trump said he wants to make a deal on NAFTA, and he’s open to working with the current pact or striking separate agreements with Canada and Mexico — as long as they agree to renegotiate every five years.
Canada wants a deal too, but the Trudeau government views the U.S.’s proposed five-year sunset clause as a non-starter.
And now, Morneau added the tariffs to Canada’s list of deal breakers on NAFTA. He said progress is being made, but more work needs to be done to conclude the negotiations.
“We’re not going to be able to do that work under the threat of tariffs. And we’re not going to be able to do that work when our retaliatory tariffs, which are real, they’re significant,” Morneau said in a Saturday interview.
The government announced it would impose more than $16.6-billion in retaliatory tariffs, effective July 1, on a variety of U.S. goods. Mexico and the European Union have also planned retaliatory tariff packages.
Trump said that would be a bad idea.
“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” he said.