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US 'working hard' to resolve Mexico steel tariff dispute

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2019
US 'working hard' to resolve Mexico steel tariff dispute

Lifting steel tariffs on Mexico and Canada is a key priority for the US, according to the country's trade representative Robert Lighthizer.

Talks are ongoing with both countries to resolve the tariffs issue while seeking to maintain the integrity of the US's broader steel and aluminum measures, Lighthizer told a senate committee hearing on the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The US imposed 25% duties on steel imports and 10% on aluminum last March, and extended the levies to Mexican and Canadian shipments in June.

Mexico's retaliatory tariffs, imposed on US goods including pork, apples, grapes and whiskey days later, are hitting the country's farmers.

"What I'm trying to do is to have a practical solution to a real problem, that is to say, get rid of the tariffs for these two [Mexico and Canada] and let them maintain their historic access to the US market, which I think will allow us to maintain the benefits of the steel and aluminum program," Lighthizer said.

"That's what I'm trying to do and it is something we are working on very hard at this point."

But Lighthizer declined to confirm whether the duties would be replaced by a quota system, enabling Mexico and Canada to ship certain quantities of the metals to the US tariff free.

Mexico has signaled it will not accept quotas, while it remains unclear whether the country or Canada will approve the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal unless the levies on steel and aluminum are lifted.

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