MEXICO CITY, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Canada and Mexico should be exempt from proposed U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, a Mexican trade negotiator said Friday.
Kenneth Smith, Mexico's chief technical negotiator in ongoing talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), said the two countries should be excluded from the import duties because they are NAFTA signatories and Washington's "strategic allies."
"We feel that because of NAFTA and because of our position as strategic allies of the United States, we should be excluded from these types of measures," Smith told reporters.
"We are going to maintain that stance," Smith said on the sidelines of the ongoing seventh round of negotiations on NAFTA in Mexico City.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to protect American industries.
It wasn't clear whether the new import duties, 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, would apply to Canada and Mexico, but they may further complicate the NAFTA talks.
Aside from this latest development, Smith described the negotiations as "positive" and "constructive."
He said none of the three nations "are in a position ... to walk away from the (negotiating) table," adding: "We are making progress on various topics."
Trump took office in 2017 with a promise to renegotiate NAFTA to make it more favorable to his country.
Talks began in mid-August and updated the 1994 agreement with regulations on e-commerce, telecommunications, small- and medium-sized companies, anti-corruption measures, among others.
However, other issues have eluded consensus, including proposed changes to rules that will affect the automobile sector, and the inclusion of a so-called sunset clause that requires a review of NAFTA every five years.