The leaders of Canada and Mexico appear to have backed down from their earlier position that they would not sign the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) until the U.S. removed Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from those countries into the U.S.
According to a CBC news item, U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the document while attending the G20 leaders’ summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 30. The day marks Pena Nieto’s final day as president of Mexico, as Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be sworn into office Dec. 1.
The CBC reports that, during the signing ceremony, Trudeau said the signing of the USMCA (which will be known as the CUSMA in Canada) lifts the uncertainty that surrounded the negotiation process, which lasted longer than a year. He added that the uncertainty "only would have gotten worse" if the parties had not reached a new agreement, according to the report.
According to the CBC report, days prior to the signing, Canada was saying the text still presented difficulties and suggested it was reluctant to celebrate the signing of a free trade agreement while tariffs are still in place that don’t represent free trade.
However, Canadian officials also insisted that Section 232 tariffs were on a separate track from the main NAFTA renegotiation, the CBC reports, and one would not affect the other.
The Section 232 tariffs went into effect in late March 2018, placing a 25 percent levy on steel and 10 percent levy on aluminum imported into the U.S. Canada and Mexico initially were excepted from the tariffs, though those exemptions expired June 1.