WASHINGTON—In an effort to facilitate approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the Trump administration has removed the 25-percent tariffs on steel and 10-percent tariffs on aluminum imported from Canada and Mexico.
In return, Canada and Mexico said they will rescind retaliatory tariffs issued in response to the U.S. tariffs.
President Trump originally 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He exempted Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports at first, but rescinded that exemption May 31, 2018.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 issued by Global Affairs Canada on May 17.
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 praising the move.
"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," Ross said.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing, which supports the Section 232 tariffs, echoed Ross' statement.
"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 in a statement.
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 percent, according to Paul.
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, 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," said MEMA CEO & President Bill Long.
The American Chemistry Council joined in praising the removal of the tariffs.
Building a chemical manufacturing facility can require up to 18,500 short tons of steel and 1,150 short tons of aluminum, the ACC noted in a statement. Tariffs can add billions to construction costs, it said.
“The chemical industry can now get back to the business of building multimillion- and multibillion-dollar chemical manufacturing facilities across the United States, creating jobs, and growing our exports to the rest of the world,” the ACC 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," said USTMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke at the time the Canadian and Mexican tariffs were instituted.