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U.S. and Canada reach deal to lift steel and aluminum tariffs

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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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Marine Le Pen first husband: The ONE connection between husbands and new boyfriend

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MARINE LE PEN’s party is tipped to top the upcoming European Parliament elections in France, leading with 24.5 percent of the French vote according to a recent poll, but what is Mrs Le Pen’s personal life like?

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Trump announces $16 billion in aid to farmers as trade war continues

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By Lauren Egan and Phil McCausland

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a $16 billion aid package for American farmers aimed at softening the financial blow created by the ongoing trade war with China.

“Our farmers will be greatly helped,” Trump said during a press event in Roosevelt Room at the White House. “The 16 billion [dollar] funds will help keep our cherished farms thriving.”

Thursday’s announcement comes as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and China and negotiations have largely stalled.

Earlier this month, talks between the two countries ended without a deal as Trump imposed another round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. And both Trump and President Xi Jinping of China have signaled that they are prepared for a long fight, if necessary.

Thursday’s aid package is the second bailout the Trump administration has issued in response to decreased agriculture trade with China. Last November, Trump announced $12 billion in aid to “make it up” to farmers, as he described it.

“During that time of negotiation, if everyone remembers, we had a period where China would target our farms,” Trump said Thursday. “Now is the time to insist on fair and reciprocal trade for our workers and our farmers.”

Trump added that he was “hopeful” that trade talks could begin again with China, but if that didn’t happen, “that’s fine.”

“These tariffs are paid for largely by China,” Trump continued, repeating claims that the tariffs were being paid out by China, not American importers. However, a study published Thursday by the International Monetary Fund found that the tariff revenue on Chinese goods “has been borne almost entirely” by U.S. importers.

Communities that supported Trump in the 2016 election have been some of the hardest hit by the ongoing trade war, and some say there is reason for Republicans to be concerned as the window to reach a deal with China before the 2020 election continues to narrow.

“I think President Trump is counting on his tariff bailout payments to buy support for him among farmers, but this is a bigger issue,” Richard Oswald, 69, of Langdon, Missouri, a fifth generation farmer, said in a phone interview with NBC News. “This is going to bite a lot of Republicans when it’s all set and done. I don’t think he understands the stress people are under and it shows a lack of compassion.”

The timing of the administration’s decision to roll out another bailout, as farmers are still deciding what crops to plant this season, has come under criticism from some lawmakers, especially since the aid comes with some strings.

“We want farmers to make decisions on how many acres of corn and soybeans to plant based on the market and not something the government’s doing,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters on Wednesday.

Jonathan Coppess, the former Farm Service Agency administrator and the director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at the University of Illinois, also expressed concerns about the aid package.

“Frankly the most immediate issues they need to clear up is the requirement that you need to plant a crop to get payment. The risk of impacting planting decisions is already in place. They’re telling them explicitly that they have to plant something,” Coppess said in an interview with NBC News, cautioning the potential for a further depressed market.

In addition to the $16 billion aid funds, Trump also announced plans to roll back some regulations on farming in the coming days, although he did not provide specifics. “We’re saving our farmers and ranchers from ridiculous regulations,” Trump said Thursday.

Trump is expected to meet with Xi at the G20 summit in June.

Lauren Egan reported from Washington, and Phil McCausland reported from New York.

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Brexit LATEST: What is happening with Brexit NOW? Everything you need to know

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BREXIT is making headlines again, with the Prime Minister being pushed to resign and the threat of another vote on the deal. So what is happening now?

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