'We had your backs': Trudeau on country's steel and aluminum workers

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland discussed the tariffs with USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Freeland is coming off a tense week which started with the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations making little progress towards an agreement but ended with a sigh of relief when Canada and Mexico secured an exemption from new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"We're negotiating right now NAFTA and we're going to hold off the tariff on those two countries to see whether or not we're able to make the deal on NAFTA", he said.

As the United States tries to light a fire under NAFTA negotiations, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will not be bullied or pressured by the United States as part of those talks.

He didn't say exactly what more Canada is willing to do.

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.

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He says he made similar points to Trump last week, in a phone call before the tariff decision.

Worldwide trade lawyer Larry Herman says Canada can do several things, including promising temporary surcharges under the Customs Tariffs Act on any country found to be dumping steel, as well as tightening up the system that issues permits for steel imports, which he says is more a formality than a check on the system at the moment. He's now holding Canada and Mexico hostage at those talks. He is working to reassure anxious workers the government has and will continue to have their backs. He's also set to visit Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and Regina, Sask.

President Donald Trump required Canada and Mexico to take steps to stop trans-shipments of foreign steel via their ports as one of the conditions for exempting them from the 25 per cent duty on steel and 10 per cent duty on aluminum that will apply to imports from every other country.

Trump also emphasized the importance of quickly concluding ongoing negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)"to ensure the vitality of United States and North American manufacturing industries and to protect the economic and national security of the United States", the White House said in a statement.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard spoke to reporters alongside Trudeau and said he wouldn't accept any undue pressure on the province's dairy farmers as a potential compromise in the steel and aluminum conflict.

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