March 8, 2018 / 5:41 PM / a year ago

Trump seeks balance with Canada and Mexico, U.S. energy chief says

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry takes part in a panel discussion at CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Maria Caspani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is trying to find the right balance with top trade partners Canada and Mexico as it considers tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Thursday.

“We are partners. But we’re competitors. And finding that nice balance is what this is all about,” Perry said on CNBC when asked whether Canada and Mexico were concerned that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs could hurt the U.S. neighbors. Perry was speaking from the CERAWeek conference in Houston.

Trump said on Thursday he is sticking with his plan for duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum but that they could go up or down depending on the country, and he could add or drop countries.

A White House official said on Wednesday Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the tariffs, which could be extended based on progress in the talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA.

Mexico and Canada have both resisted linking the tariffs to NAFTA.

Canada and Mexico “are our number one trading partners and it’s going to continue to be,” Perry said.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Frances Kerry

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