Canada dodges tariff bullet, at least for now: US grants provisional exemption

President Donald Trump walks to the Oval Office after speaking at the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit Wednesday

The Canadian dollar has bumped around in recent weeks on developments from North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which the Trump administration a year ago said required renegotiation.

Fernández said trade between the US and Mexico has grown six-fold to around $560 billion a year since NAFTA was implemented in 1994.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gives a speech during a joint news conference with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Mexico City, Mexico February 2, 2018.

Peter Navarro, Trump's trade and manufacturing adviser, said in an interview on Fox Business on Wednesday that the tariffs would go into effect within about 15 to 30 days and that the proclamation signed by the president would include a clause that would not immediately impose tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

Over the past week, all sides have said that progress to overhaul Nafta so far has been slow, but there has been some headway on several trade issues and a more constructive tone in weeklong negotiations that wound up in Mexico's capital Monday. "We are looking to make sure that USA companies can compete fairly around the world". The negotiators are already discussing openly the possibility of doing bilateral trade agreements, country to country, rather than the tri-country agreement that has been working well up to this point.

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They follow a tumultuous period that saw a major military shake-up and a royal purge, part of a sweeping power play by the prince. The Saudi delegation then met May at her offices to launch a UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council.

White House officials even say the specifics of the plan remain fluid and it's unclear when they will be finalized.

Mnuchin told Young that he and Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueTrump proposes restricting choices for food stamp recipients Regulatory restructure of biotech is critical to the future of U.S. agriculture The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE have "had significant input into these discussions".

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, in turn, ruled out that Mexico will make Nafta concessions to avoid steel tariffs.

"The goal of retaliation in trade wars like this is to leverage particular congressional districts that influence the president, that influence the administration in how they're carrying out these things", said Sarah Goldfeder, a principal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. Yet at no time has there been a suggestion that close allies Canada and Mexico constitute any kind of security risk to the U.S.

Trudeau, who was last in Hamilton in January when he held a town hall meeting at McMaster University, has stated he has attempted to persuade U.S. President Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on Canada. Both have signed on to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the huge trade pact that Trump pulled the US out of (for no explainable reason other than TPP has something to do with trade).

Trans-Pacific Partnership signed
Other countries have to do the same, and at least half of the TPP members must ratify the agreement before it comes into force. Canada and Mexico are exempted from the controversial measure that will go into effect on Friday next week.

In B.C., it's unsure at this point how the proposed US government's 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imported into the USA would impact Rio Tinto's BC Works in Kitimat.

China, the world's biggest exporter, accused the United States of carrying out protectionism in the name of national security.

Representatives from the three countries just finished the seventh round of talks on Monday in the Mexico City when Trump announced the measure on March 1. A formal announcement is expected this week or next.

Still, Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization provided a sobering statement: "Once we start down this path it will be very hard to reverse direction".

The President didn't specify Monday whether the potential tariff rollback would be applied only to Mexico and Canada. After an agreement is concluded, USA laws require additional steps before it can even be considered by the current Congress.

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