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US, Canada reach agreement to update NAFTA; impact on Section 232 metals tariffs unclear

Pittsburgh — The US and Canada late Sunday reached an agreement, alongside Mexico, for a new trade deal between the three countries.

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Replacing NAFTA, the new US-Mexico-Canada agreement will "give our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses a high-standard trade agreement that will result in freer markets, fairer trade and robust economic growth in our region," US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a joint statement.

Related story: US to continue discussions with Canada, Mexico on metals tariffs: Trump

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The US and Mexico reached a preliminary trade deal at the end of August that did not include Canada. The Trump administration set a deadline of Sunday to reach an agreement with Canada as it had been hoping to fast-track a new three-country deal so that it could be signed before Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto leaves office at the end of November. The new agreement will be sent to Congress for a 60-day review period before it can be signed.

It was unclear Monday if the new trade agreement could impact the US Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. The US has said those discussions are on a "separate track" from the NAFTA negotiations.

Canada has been highly critical of the metals tariffs since the US began enforcing the 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum imports from NAFTA countries June 1.

"Canada has said from the very outset of the 232 considerations that this is an issue entirely separate from NAFTA," Freeland said in early September, adding that Canada is "very much opposed to the tariffs as they are unjustified and illegal."

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

--Edited by Maurice Geller, maurice.geller@spglobal.com