The exclusion of aluminum from tighter auto requirements in the new NAFTA could see Mexico become a back door for China to push the metal into the United States, industry officials and union leaders say.
Canada, the United States and Mexico agreed Tuesday to an amended North American Free Trade Agreement that includes tougher enforcement provisions for labour reforms, a strengthened dispute resolution mechanism, and weaker protections for the pharmaceutical industry.
The deal also included a last-minute change to a requirement calling for 70 per cent of the steel and aluminum used in auto production to be purchased in North America. Under the newly tweaked rules, steel must be “melted and poured” by primary steelmakers in North America in order to receive preferential tariff treatment. No provision was added for aluminum.
Though the United States and Canada — the latter the dominant aluminum producing country in North America — fought hard for the metal to be included in the clause, Mexico would not concede, said Jean Simard, president of the Aluminum Association of Canada.
“They fought, Canada fought, but they lost,” Simard said. “At the very end Mexico said ‘This is my red line. That’s enough’.” On Wednesday, the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois accused the Liberals of mishandling revisions to the deal, suggesting they could delay its ratification.