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Mexico says it, with Canada, should be excluded from new steel tariffs

Mexico City, Mexico — Mexico’s chief NAFTA negotiator, Kenneth Smith, said Mexico and Canada should be excluded from the announced application of tariffs on steel and aluminum imports by the United States.

“Of course we feel that through NAFTA and the relationship of strategic allies that we have with the United States, we should be excluded from that type of measure and we are going to maintain that position,” Smith told reporters.

Donald Trump announced March 1 that he will impose tariffs on steel imports of 25 percent and 10 percent on aluminum imports beginning next week.

It is unclear if the tariffs would apply to US partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which together represent more than $1 trillion USD in annual trilateral trade.

According to Smith, the negotiation has not so far, been influenced by the announcement.

“The negotiation as such has not been affected by the rumors of a US decision regarding the 232. We continue working proactively. We have had meetings in various sources, in the field of financial services, in the table of environmental issues.

“We are also seeing issues of temporary entry, all sessions that are scheduled from the beginning of this round are being carried out normally,” Smith explained.

He recalled that, “as with the safeguards of 201, which were announced for washing machines and solar panels, where for example, in the NAFTA there is an obligation to exclude Mexico and Canada from global safeguards, there are also provisions in terms of National Security (232) and how those measures should be used.

“We of course feel that through NAFTA, and because of the relationship of strategic allies that we are from the US, we should be excluded from this type of measure.”

According to Smith, so far there is no formal decision on the part of the neighboring country in relation to the 232, so they are waiting for the final decision, which is presumed to be made early next week.

“We have been clear throughout this investigation process that the US should not consider that Canada and Mexico represent threats in terms of national security, in terms of steel. We are waiting to see the result of that, and based on that will analyze the possible options we have,” Smith added.

Through a positioning, Gerry Rice, spokesman for the International Monetary Fund, mentioned that this commercial decision could affect, not only in the global context, but also the economy of the United States.

“We are concerned that the measures proposed by the United States will expand, de facto, the circumstances in which countries use national security to justify restrictions on imports globally.

“We advise the US and its business partners to work constructively together to reduce trade barriers and resolve trade disagreements without the need to resort to such emergency measures,” Rice said.