Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET
The Trump administration has reached a deal to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, in a move that could put the two nations a step closer to ratifying the USMCA — the trade deal that would update the NAFTA agreement.
The tariffs will fall within two days, according to a joint U.S.-Canada statement posted by Canada’s foreign ministry.
The U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico have now been in effect for nearly a year, subjecting steel imports to a 25% tariff and aluminum to a 10% hike. Retaliatory tariffs from both countries have been in place for nearly as long.
Friday’s joint statement does not mention the status of the tariffs between the U.S. and Mexico.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the breakthrough Friday afternoon.
“There was no one breakthrough moment,” Trudeau told reporters at an event at the Stelco steel plant in Hamilton, Ontario. He added that he had “lots of conversations with the [U.S.] president over the past weeks, and understanding as well that these tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border.”
And with both countries’ leaders now hoping to get the USMCA ratified, Trudeau said, “it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue to have tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries.”
Trudeau spoke to President Trump about a deal to end the tariffs around midday, according to Cameron Ahmad, Trudeau’s director of communications.
The joint statement says the U.S. and Canada will establish a way to monitor aluminum and steel trade between them, with an eye to prevent the “transshipment” of aluminum and steel that was produced by a third country.
The deal also calls on the two countries to prevent the importation of aluminum and steel that is “unfairly subsidized and/or sold at dumped prices.”
The agreement also leaves room for tariffs to be instated “imports of aluminum or steel products surge meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade over a period of time, with consideration of market share.”
“Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, accounting for some 50% of U.S. exports,” the Canadian government says. It adds that nearly 84% of Canadian aluminum production is exported to the U.S.
Trump’s original tariff order targeted the EU, exempting the closest U.S. neighbors. But after extended talks on a revised NAFTA deal took longer than the U.S. administration had hoped, the two countries were included in the tariffs. The leaders of the three countries signed the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement in late November. It won’t take effect until all three legislatures have voted to ratify the trade pact.
In late April, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, warned Trump that the USMCA deal would be “dead” unless the steel and aluminum tariffs were lifted.
Trump ordered the first round of tariffs roughly a month after receiving a letter from 25 U.S. steel and metal companies urging him to act “to prevent excess steel capacity and surging steel imports from undermining our national security and the viability of the U.S. steel industry.”
News of a deal to undo the tariffs comes two days after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said a deal was looming, during his testimony to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.
Earlier this week, Mexico’s Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez said she believed a solution to the tariff standoff could be imminent, as she held meetings in Toronto with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.