Trudeau undecided on U.S., Mexico summit next week to talk aluminum tariffs

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not made up his mind on whether or not he will agree to a trilateral summit with the United States and Mexico next week, as proposed by Washington.

Trudeau said this morning that federal officials are still discussing the possibility of attending the meeting alongside U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which would take place in Washington were it to happen.

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If Canada attends, the discussion will likely centre around trade issues, such as recent concerns that the United States may re-implement aluminum and steel tariffs on Canadian exports.

“We are still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said. “We are obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently.”

Earlier in June, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - also the chief negotiator of the USMCA North American free-trade agreement (which came into effect on Wednesday) - told a U.S. Senate Finance Committee that the American market has seen a recent spike in Canadian aluminum exports.

A similar set of tariffs (at 10%) hit Canada and other countries in 2019 but was repealed in May last year after intense lobbying by Ottawa. The U.S. consumes about 6 million tonnes of aluminum annually but produces less than 1 million tonne domestically, requiring imports from markets like Canada.

Trudeau also noted that part of the discussions - if Canada chooses to participate - will also focus on the “coronavirus realities that is still hitting all three” countries.

The United States has seen its COVID-19 numbers skyrocket in late June, culminating in new daily cases reaching 54,869 on July 2. Canada’s daily new cases on the same day has fallen to 351.

The majority of the new spike in cases are happening in southern “Sun Belt” states. Florida saw daily new cases breach 10,000 on July 2 with 10,109, while Arizona (4,877, July 1), Texas (8,076, July 1) and California (9,740, June 30) all saw record highs in new cases within the last seven days.

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