MEXICO CITY – The Mexican government praised the move by the United States to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico, a policy that took effect on Monday, and published a decree ending the tariffs imposed on US products last year.
“The government of the United States has issued the proclamation to exempt Mexican aluminum and steel from tariffs as of May 20,” Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez said in a Twitter post.
In a statement, the Economy Secretariat praised the order “issued by the US president (Donald Trump) to eliminate tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico.”
On Friday, Trump confirmed that his administration had reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada to eliminate US tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from those countries.
The president said he was confident the deal, which also includes the removal of retaliatory tariffs that the US’s neighbors had imposed on American products, would pave the way for ratification of a new trilateral trade pact – the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
In May 2018, the US imposed a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports and a 25 percent tariff on steel imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Those trading partners had initially been exempted from the tariffs, which were imposed at those same levels on most of the world’s countries two months earlier.
The Economy Secretariat, for its part, issued an order to remove retaliatory tariffs imposed on June 5, 2018, on certain US products.
Last June, tariffs were levied on dozens of products, such as flat steel (hot and cold foil, including coated and various tubes), lamps, pork legs and shoulders, sausages, ready-to-eat food products, apples, grapes, cranberries and several kinds of cheeses, among others.
The tariffs were imposed up to “an amount comparable to the level of effect” of the tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum in the United States.
The Economy Secretariat said that the tariff agreement between Mexico and the United States announced on Friday was made possible by the “firm position” that Marquez took at all times.
The economy secretary refused to “accept quotas as a solution” and made it clear “that the only adequate option for Mexico was the removal of the measure.”
The secretariat said that the strategy of focusing “reprisals” on certain US products, among them agricultural goods, was “decisive” in leading decision makers in the United States to “put pressure on the Trump administration.”
It is expected that the tariff suspension will allow progress toward ratification of the new USMCA trade deal.
Canada and Mexico expected the tariffs would be lifted before the USMCA was signed late last year, but Washington’s refusal to do so became an obstacle to the trade deal’s ratification by the three nation’s legislatures.
The USMCA is an updated version of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump slammed as a disaster for American workers during his surprise run to the White House in 2016.
The road to ratification of the trade deal in the US may have become smoother after Mexico enacted a labor-law overhaul on May 1 demanded by the opposition Democrats in the US House of Representatives.
But the House has not yet scheduled a vote on the USMCA.