The exemption of Mexico from President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum was a lifeline for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but at the same time Mexican officials fear the tariff issue could be used as a bargaining chip to force concessions in the broader auto sector.
The prime minister is on a cross-country tour of aluminum and steel factories to demonstrate his government's support for workers in light of potential threats to those industries from the USA administration.
The steel tariff investigation was launched to see the impact of steel imports on USA national security. She is to meet US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Congressional leaders and others.
But Trudeau told a U.S. TV audience he sees them as separate issues: "We don't link together the tariffs and the negotiations with NAFTA", he told CNBC in an interview Monday from a Quebec aluminum plant, where he toured the facility and promised to continue standing up for the industry.
Trudeau also rejected the idea that the tariff exemption was some kind of benevolent American favour that required repayment.
"The Prime Minister acknowledged and supported the special consideration extended to Canada in the context of steel and aluminum tariffs that the President announced last week, and emphasized that preserving our mutually beneficial supply chains is critical to jobs and businesses on both sides of the border", said the release.
Freeland said it was absurd to consider Canadian steel a national security threat and that "as far as Canada is concerned there is absolutely no connection" between the national security reasons cited for the steel tariffs and NAFTA.
On the subject of national-security tariffs, Trudeau told CNN: "Canadian aluminum is in your fighter jets". However, Trump more directly tied Canada and Mexico's exclusion from the tariffs to a successful NAFTA outcome. There is no better security partner in the world.
The prime minister is on a cross-country tour of aluminum and steel factories to demonstrate his government's support for workers in light of potential threats to those industries from the US administration.
Other stops will include Hamilton, Sault Ste.
Her words echo those of Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo who said last week Mexico also believed the steel tariffs had nothing to do with the NAFTA talks. Marie, Ont., and Regina, Sask.
Canada is the largest market for the United States, with 283 billion US dollars worth of goods exported to Canada in 2017.