Trump-era solar product tariffs to be scrapped after trade talks with U.S., Mexico in Vancouver

Former U.S. president Donald Trump’s tariffs on Canadian-made solar products will be scrapped, after Canada, the United States and Mexico reached a deal at trade talks in Vancouver.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng said the agreement, reached during talks that ended Friday, reflects the shared commitment to combat climate change and develop renewable energy.

“This agreement will bring stability and predictability to our renewable energy sector and strengthen North American competitiveness,” Ng said in a statement. “It is a clear recognition of Canada’s place as a leader in the fight against climate change.”

Ng met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Mexico’s secretary of economy, Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, in Vancouver at the Free Trade Commission Meeting.

The tariffs were imposed by Trump in 2018, and the Canadian government has said exports of solar products to the U.S. declined by as much as 82 per cent since then.

In February a dispute resolution panel found that by keeping Canadian exports subject to its so-called “safeguard measures,” the U.S. was in violation of its obligations under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

From left, Canada’s International Trade Minister Mary Ng, Mexico’s secretary of economy Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai attend free trade meetings in Vancouver on Friday. (Government of Canada/Twitter)

Softwood lumber dispute

Ng also says she raised the issue of softwood lumber negotiations during a bilateral meeting with Tai.

In November, the U.S. Department of Commerce said it would impose duties of 17.9 per cent, on average on softwood lumber imported from Canada. That’s twice the previous 8.99 per cent rate, and lumber trade bodies spoke out.

“The way forward is to find a solution with the United States,” Ng said.

Both the U.S. and Canada agreed it’s an important issue, but it’s not clear what that possible solution will look like. Tai reiterated her support for the industry.

“Our priority is ensuring that U.S. softwood lumber producers can compete on a level playing field,” Tai said. “Subsidized lumber and dumped imports undermine their ability to compete fairly.”

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