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Bill Kelly: Trudeau's right about tariffs, but it may not matter

Bill Kelly: Trudeau's right about tariffs, but it may not matter

NAFTA talks started seven months ago and the starting to get antsy about getting a deal.

Reacting to Trump's urge, Trudeau told CNN that Canada is glad to see the United States is eager to seal the deal.

The Trump administration has temporarily exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs and has suggested it may add other countries.

European Union officials may challenge Trump's tariffs at the World Trade Organization, but that could be a long, drawn-out process.

Trump last week rolled out tariffs on steel and aluminum but said Canada and Mexico will be excluded and long-term exemptions would be based on the results of NAFTA negotiations.

For more than two years, US President Trump criticised the agreement and also hinted to take some serious steps being in the administration or at least send some ultimatums.

Asked what he would do if Trump changed course and slapped duties on Canada, Trudeau said, "we'll see when we get to that point".

"We don't link together the tariffs and the negotiations for NAFTA but we're happy to continue to move forward on the negotiations", Trudeau told CNBC.

Trudeau's view has prominent support: A poll of leading economists from the University of Chicago has found rare unanimity on the topic, with a newly released survey Monday showing that zero per cent of economists surveyed believe tariffs will help Americans.

Much of the steel imported today comes from friendly countries such as Canada, South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom, with which the USA has strong military alliances.

Moreover, even if the over-reliance on steel imports were truly "weakening the internal economy" and "shrinking [US] ability to meet national security production requirements in a national emergency", as stated in the report, it's ironic that President Trump would then grant exemptions to Canada and Mexico - the largest and fourth largest exporters of steel to the USA respectively.

He said he began talking about steel with Trump at the G7 summit in Sicily a year ago, when he was emphatic that Canada poses no national security threat to the U.S. Since most tariffs are already low, affected countries are allowed to impose their own tariffs on United States goods and services but only for three years.

There's no question steel is an essential part of a wide range of weapons and other goods used by the military, from tanks to battleships. He was to also visit three Canadian steel cities this week to reassure workers.

Azevedo said Brazil was "exploring alternatives" for responding to the tariffs.

Canada is the United States' largest foreign provider of steel and aluminum with about 85 per cent of Canadian exports being directed to the country.