Canada's Trudeau raises U.S. auto import probe concerns with Trump

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks outside the Manoir Richelieu, site of the upcoming G7 leaders' summit in Quebec's Charlevoix region, before the start of an interview with Reuters in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday and raised “strong concerns” about a U.S. probe into car and truck imports that was launched this week, the prime minister’s office said.

The two leaders also discussed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations and bringing talks to a timely conclusion, Trudeau’s office said.

The Trump administration earlier this week began a national security investigation into auto imports that could lead to new U.S. tariffs similar to those imposed on imported steel and aluminum in March.

The move was seen as adding pressure to the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, where auto provisions have become a critical part of the talks.

Trudeau “raised strong concerns about the U.S.’s Section 232 investigation on automobile imports, given the mutually beneficial integration of the Canadian and American auto industries,” his office said in a statement.

In a brief statement about the call, the White House said the two leaders discussed NAFTA and other trade and economic issues. It gave no other details.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Trudeau said the investigation was based on flimsy logic and was part of pressure from Washington to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact.

Mexico’s economy minister said on Friday there was about a 40 percent chance of concluding the NAFTA talks before Mexico’s presidential election on July 1.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and James Dalgleish