Trudeau says he could skip the USMCA summit, citing the tariff threat and the U.S. pandemic.

“We are still in talks with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said at a press conference near Ottawa.

“Obviously we are concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that Americans have recently brought up. We are also concerned about the health situation and the reality of the coronavirus that still affects our three countries. ”

The United States has been pressing Ottawa to set quotas on Canadian aluminum exports to curb the rush for shipments, or face the reintroduction of a 10 percent tariff, several people familiar with the matter told POLITICO last week.

Last month, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about recent increases in imported steel and aluminum, “substantially from Canada, some from Mexico.”

The United States imposed steel and aluminum duties on Canada and Mexico for a year, citing national security concerns, before lifting them for both countries in 2019. Canada had retaliated with its own tariffs on American products.

However, the agreement to remove the levies stated that the United States could re-impose them after consulting with Canada and “in the event that imports of aluminum or steel products increase significantly beyond historical trade volumes over a period of time”.

The reintroduction of United States tariffs would create new cross-border tensions and likely lead to further retaliation by Canada.

Earlier this week, Trudeau warned that if the Trump administration were to reduce tariffs on Canadian aluminum, it would increase input costs for U.S. manufacturers and harm the U.S. economy.

“We have obviously listened to the reflections and proposals of the United States [that] maybe there should be more tariffs on aluminum, “he told reporters on Monday.” What we are simply highlighting is that the United States needs Canadian aluminum. They don’t produce enough aluminum, not even close to aluminum in the United States, to meet their needs. of national manufacture ”.

The pandemic is another issue that Trudeau must consider before any trip to Washington. On Friday, Trudeau was also asked if visiting the US would mean he would have to isolate himself upon his return.

“These are obviously conversations that we are having with both Americans and public health officials here in Canada,” he said. “But I can assure you that at all times we will follow all the rules and all public health advice.”