By Lucy Bayly
The U.S. will lift the steel and aluminum tariffs it imposed on Canada last year, President Donald Trump announced Friday, while Canada will, in turn, withdraw the retaliatory tariffs it had levied on billions of dollars of American imports.
The move not only clears the deck for Trump to focus on trade negotiations with China, but paves the way for the eventual ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaces the nearly 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Canada was charging us extremely high tariffs,” Trump said Friday, in remarks at a real estate convention in Washington. Such levels were essentially “a barrier” that told the U.S. “we don’t want your business,” Trump noted.
The accord also includes a provision that imports “meaningfully beyond historic volumes of trade” would lead to re-imposition of the tariffs, according to a joint statement released Friday afternoon. The two sides have also agreed to monitor the origins of such an increase, in order to ensure other countries do not “dump” steel or aluminum in countries that do not pay tariffs.
The move last March to implement tariffs under the guise of national security measures triggered strong response across the globe, including a firm reproach from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who denounced the punitive tariffs as “totally unacceptable” and “an affront,” saying that the very idea that Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is “inconceivable.”
Trump’s decision to levy the 10 percent tariff on aluminum and 25 percent on steel imports — without including a waiver for two of the country’s closest trading partners — triggered retaliatory tariffs of $12.8 billion on American imports, which Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said at the time was “the strongest trade action Canada has taken in the post-war era.”
A statement from Mexico is expected later Friday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mexico said last year it would “impose equivalent measures to various products in the face of U.S. protectionist measures,” noting it “deeply regrets and rejects the decision of the United States to impose these tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico.”
Every job saved or created by the steel tariffs costs Americans around $900,000, according to a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Freeland this week, and Trudeau’s office said Trump and the Canadian Prime Minister spoke about the tariffs earlier on Friday.
The renegotiation of NAFTA was one of Trump’s campaign pledges. If the deal can finally reach approval, the new agreement could head to Congress for a vote before lawmakers leave for their August recess.
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California considers health care for undocumented immigrants
By Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lilian Serrano’s mother-in-law had lots of stomach problems, but she always blamed food.
Doctors at a San Diego-area clinic suspected Genoveva Angeles might have cancer, but they could not say for sure because they did not have the equipment to test for it and Angeles, who had been in the country illegally for 20 years, could not afford to see a specialist and did not qualify for state assistance because of her immigration status.
In September, Angeles finally learned she had gallbladder cancer. Serrano said she was in the hospital room when Angeles, in her late 60s, died about two weeks later.
“We don’t know if she would have survived treatment, but she was not even able to access it,” said Serrano, chairwoman of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium.
“She never had a chance to fight cancer.”
Stories like that have prompted California lawmakers to consider proposals that would make the state the first in the nation to offer government-funded health care to adult immigrants living in the country illegally. But the decision on who to cover may come down to cost.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to spend about $98 million a year to cover low-income immigrants between the ages of 19 and 25 who are living in the country illegally.
The state Assembly has a bill that would cover all immigrants in California living in the country illegally over the age of 19. But Newsom has balked at that plan because of its estimated $3.4 billion price.
“There’s 3.4 billion reasons why it is a challenge,” he said.
The state Senate wants to cover adults ages 19 to 25, plus seniors 65 and older. That bill’s sponsor, Sen. Maria Elana Durazo, scoffed at cost concerns, noting the state has a projected $21.5 billion budget surplus.
“When we have, you know, a good budget, then what’s the reason for not addressing it?” she said.
The Senate and Assembly will finalize their budget proposals this week before beginning negotiations with the governor. State law says a budget has to be passed by June 15 or lawmaker forfeit their pay.
At stake, according to legislative staffers, are the 3 million people left in California who don’t have health insurance. About 1.8 million of them are immigrants in the country illegally. Of those, about 1.26 million have incomes low enough to qualify them for the Medi-Cal program.
“Symbolically, this is quite significant. This would be establishing California as a counter to federal policies, both around health care and immigration,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.
If enacted, it could prompt yet another collision with the Trump administration, which has proposed a rule that could hinder immigrants’ residency applications if they rely on public assistance programs such as Medicaid.
The proposed rule from the Department of Homeland Security says the goal is to make sure “foreign nationals do not become dependent on public benefits for support.”
California is also considering a measure requiring everyone in the state to purchase health insurance. People who refuse would have to pay a penalty, and the money would go toward helping middle-income residents purchase private health insurance plans.
“We’re going to penalize the citizens of this state that have followed the rules, but we’re going to let somebody who has not followed the rules come in here and get the services for free. I just think that’s wrong,” Republican state Sen. Jeff Stone said about coverage of people in the U.S. illegally.
Many immigrants who are in the country illegally are already enrolled for some government-funded programs, but they only cover emergencies and pregnancies.
Serrano was one of hundreds of immigrant activists who came to the Capitol on Monday for “Immigrant Day of Action.” She and her husband spent the day meeting with lawmakers, sharing the story of Angeles.
“The conversation that I have is about the cost,” she said, describing her interactions with lawmakers. “The conversation we want to have is about our families.”
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