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Deal close to remove Section 232 tariffs on Canada, Mexico: Mnuchin

Pittsburgh — The US is close to reaching a deal with Canada and Mexico that would remove the Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from those countries, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told a Senate panel Wednesday.

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"I think we are close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada," Mnuchin said in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services. "I've spoken to the finance ministers, [US Trade Representative Robert] Lighthizer is leading the effort on this, but I can assure you it is a priority of ours."

Mnuchin added that Lighthizer is in active discussions with Canada and Mexico regarding the metals tariffs, which have emerged as a sticking point in getting the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement ratified.

"The president has instructed us to try to figure out a solution and this is a very important part of passing USMCA,," Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin did not provide details on what form replacement import restrictions could take if implemented for Canada and Mexico. US President Donald Trump previously stated the Section 232 tariffs would only be removed if countries are willing to agree to an import quota or other arrangement.

On Tuesday, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez said she believed the three countries were "close to negotiating the lifting of the tariffs" following a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Toronto, according to a report from Canadian broadcaster CBC.

In recent days, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has discussed the US tariffs on steel and aluminum in several calls with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, according to readouts of the calls provided by Trudeau's office.

-- Justine Coyne, justine.coyne@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com