WASHINGTON — In an effort to facilitate approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Trump administration has removed the respective 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada and Mexico.
In return, Canada and Mexico will rescind retaliatory tariffs issued in response to the U.S. tariffs, both governments announced recently.
President Trump ordered tariffs on imported steel and aluminum in March 2018 under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the president to impose sanctions against product imports that threaten national security through harming U.S. industries.
He exempted Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports at first, but rescinded that exemption May 31, 2018.
The U.S. and Canada announced removal of the tariffs in a joint statement dated May 17 and issued by Global Affairs Canada.
The two governments would eliminate all tariffs within two days, the statement said. Also, the U.S. and Canada agreed to terminate all pending litigation between them before the World Trade Organization, it said.
Also on May 17, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross issued a statement describing the tariffs as a total success for the U.S.
"The president's imposition of Section 232 tariffs has brought American steel and aluminum plants roaring back to life, providing thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of investment," Mr. Ross said.
"As we celebrate this success and look forward to the ratification and implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the future could not be brighter for the economies of our three great nations," he said.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), which supports the Section 232 tariffs, echoed Mr. Ross' comments.
"This administration's steel trade enforcement action has stabilized the domestic industry to a point where it believes alternative arrangements can be made with Canada and Mexico," AAM President Scott Paul said.
More than 12,000 new jobs have been created in the domestic steel industry since the tariffs began, and the U.S. manufacturing unemployment rate is only 3%, Mr. Paul said.
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), which opposed the tariffs from the beginning, applauded the removal of the tariffs from Canadian and Mexican imports.
"Today's action is the right thing to do, and we urge the Congress to quickly pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement," MEMA CEO & President Bill Long said.
Although the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association declined comment on the new tariff action, it has long been on record as opposing tariffs on imported steel. The proper grade of steel for tire manufacturing is not made in the U.S.
"We (U.S. tire manufacturers) have enjoyed years of sustained growth and economic impact, and yet this action today has the real potential of decelerating these positive trends," USTMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke said at the time the Canadian and Mexican tariffs were instituted.