U.S.-China trade war dis­tract­ing from talks on steel tar­iffs: Morneau


Fi­nance Minister Bill Morneau says the on­go­ing U.S.China trade dis­pute is dis­tract­ing from talks aimed at solv­ing the steel tar­iffs is­sue be­tween Canada and its largest trad­ing partner. At an event in Mon­treal Fri­day, Morneau said the Amer­i­cans’ Pa­cific trade row puts “mul­ti­ple chal­lenges on their plate.” “That means we’ve got a chal­lenge in get­ting this fo­cused on in the near term,” he said. Morneau said his of­fice is in con­tact daily with U.S. of­fi­cials as well as metal pro­duc­ers and pur­chasers, but could not of­fer a time­line for an end to the tar­iffs.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump slapped tar­iffs of 25 per cent and 10 per cent on steel and alu­minum im­ports, re­spec­tively, from Canada in May, prompt­ing re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs by Canada on $16.6 bil­lion worth of U.S. goods. Mean­while, Amer­i­can tar­iffs against China have trig­gered a tit-for-tat trade war af­fect­ing hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars in goods over the past year. De­spite a 90-day cease­fire an­nounced Thurs­day in which the two coun­tries agreed to sus­pend tar­iff hikes and work to­ward a res­o­lu­tion, the Dec. 1 ar­rest of Chi­nese tele­com Huawei Tech­nolo­gies’ chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer by Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties at the re­quest of the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment threat­ens to sour ne­go­ti­a­tions with Bei­jing. Morneau’s re­marks came hours af­ter the first min­is­ters’ con­fer­ence kicked off two blocks away in down­town Mon­treal on Fri­day. Premiers Doug Ford and Fran­cois Le­gault of On­tario and Que­bec have said they plan to bring up con­cerns over tar­iffs, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to the au­to­mo­tive and aerospace in­dus­tries.

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