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Steel import tariffs

Friday, March 02, 2018

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's trade minister will discuss the threat of US steel import tariffs with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday, two sources said, adding to trade tensions during the latest push to renegotiate the NAFTA trade deal.

The meeting in Washington between Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who oversees trade, and Mr Ross comes as US, Mexican and Canadian officials meet in Mexico City for a seventh round of negotiations to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In President Donald Trump's trade policy agenda presented to Congress on Wednesday, US trade envoy, Robert Lighthizer, pledged the administration would continue to renegotiate NAFTA as part of efforts to seek fairer, more reciprocal trade.

The NAFTA talks have crawled along for the past six months, though officials say a number of less controversial issues under discussion could be resolved in this round.

Mr Trump has threatened to walk away from the $US1.2 trillion ($F2.4t) treaty unless major changes are made.

Mr Trump is currently considering Commerce Department proposals to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from China and elsewhere following a probe looking at whether imports of the metals threatened US national security.

A Mexican official said the agenda would include the proposed steel tariffs as well as the tomatoes trade, another area that has been dogged by disputes and subject to periodic renegotiation.

If the United States imposed steel tariffs, Mexico's government would seek to retaliate, the official said — just as it vowed last month to act against a decision by Washington to slap tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels.

Mr Trump authorised the investigations in April after US steel and aluminum manufacturers complained they were being forced out of business because of excessive foreign dumping.

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