March 8, 2018 / 1:44 PM / 9 months ago

Trudeau confident about Canada's position over U.S. tariff threat

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, receives the 2018 Catalyst for Change Award and delivers remarks at the Equal Voice International Women's Day Lunch in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Donovan

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday there was a “level of confidence” that the country’s close relationship with the United States would protect it from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

A White House official said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump planned to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which could be extended based on progress in talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trudeau told CBC radio he believed there would be “a recognition that Canada is in a particular situation in our close relationship” with the United States.

Canada is the largest supplier of both steel and aluminum to the United States.

Trudeau spoke separately by phone on Thursday with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, prominent Republican critics of the tariffs proposal.

“The Prime Minister and Speaker Ryan emphasized the complementary and integrated nature of steel and aluminum industries on both sides of the border,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement. Trudeau called Trump on Monday to stress his concerns about the tariffs, officials said.

Trump planned to have a meeting Thursday to discuss tariffs. He had been expected later in the day to sign a proclamation imposing 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, but this could slide into Friday.

“The president has said look, if we get to a position where we have successfully renegotiated NAFTA there won’t be any tariffs for Canada. We are going see what he actually announces later today,” Trudeau said in a separate interview on Breakfast Television.

“We are continuing to push on getting the right deal for Canada, getting the right deal for Canadians, getting the right deal for everyone.”

Reporting by Allison Lampert in Ottawa and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Frances Kerry and Tom Brown

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