If the Trump administration wants the legislative bodies in the U.S., Mexico and Canada to ratify the renegotiated trade agreement that binds all three countries with virtually no ag trade tariffs, it’s going to have to lift its steel and aluminum tariffs, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Wednesday.

Martha Barcena, Mexico’s new ambassador to the U.S., and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland both informed Grassley personally that the countries would not ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) if the Trump administration did not scrap the “Section 232” tariffs.

“It’s pretty clear to me after visiting with (Barcena and Freeland) that they are not going to move as long as those tariffs are on,” Grassley said.

Barcena, representing the administration of the newly elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also met Wednesday with Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“They discussed the benefits of USMCA to both the U.S. and Mexico,” a USDA spokesman told Agri-Pulse.

Originally, Canada and Mexico were exempted from the metal tariffs the Trump administration said were needed to protect national security. The exemptions, officials said at the time, were tied to the negotiations to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement. But those exemptions expired when the talks stalled. Government officials in all three countries expressed surprise when the Trump administration did not reinstate the exemptions after Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto all signed the pact last year.

Meanwhile farm and other trade associations are banding together in the U.S. with the sole purpose of pressuring the Trump administration and Congress to ratify USMCA, The newly formed umbrella group, the Pass USMCA Coalition, is made of groups like the National Cotton Council, National Chicken Council and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

“The USMCA sets a modern precedent for freer and fairer trade not only in North America, but throughout the world,” said Gary Locke, the group’s honorary chairman. “Ratifying the agreement quickly will improve our trading relationships with Canada and Mexico, create more jobs for American workers, and propel international trade into the 21st century.”

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