Mexico still “working positively” on NAFTA despite steel and aluminum tariff announcement

Kenneth Smith, Mexico's chief NAFTA negotiator, claims threats will not affect the seventh round of NAFTA talks and that all three countries are still working "constructively"
File photo/EFE
04/03/2018
16:17
Newsroom
Mexico City
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Regarding the announcement that the United States is planning to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from all nations, the Mexican Government was confident that the announcement will not adversely affect the talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Yesterday, a White House official confirmed that the decision to impose the duties – 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports – will consider no exemption for any country and is expected to be ready “some time next week.”

While both, Canada's chief NAFTA negotiator Steve Verheul and John Melle, of the U.S., refused to comment on the subject, Mexico's chief negotiator Kenneth Smith said that Mexico is still “working positively” despite the announcement of the U.S. Government.

“Neither Canada nor Mexico nor the United States are in a position to leave the table; we're working constructively. It's not going to disrupt the operation of discussion table 232 [national security measures on steel and aluminum] and this is something I'd like to clarify,” he said.

However, Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor – Canada's private sector union – said Canadian negotiators are “frustrated” by the U.S. decision and qualified the move as a “step back” for the talks, stating that ending NAFTA should be considered given the posture of the U.S.

Trump's announcement has drawn the criticism of several organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has even cautioned that the tariffs could have a negative impact on U.S. economy instead, as it would affect its domestic automotive and manufacturing industries, for instance.

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