A Canadian senior official said that American tariffs on steel and aluminum make it “difficult for us to ratify” the continental trade deal (Geoff Robins)

Ottawa (AFP) – Canada stepped up pressure on Washington to remove steel and aluminum tariffs, warning on Wednesday that it won’t ratify a continental trade deal while the irritant remains and that time was running out.

“We’re telling the Americans that the tariffs on steel and aluminum make it difficult for us to ratify the agreement because MPs, senators, and Canadians are going to ask why we are moving forward as long as they are in place,” a senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Canada’s agriculture and transport ministers made similar comments recently to officials in Washington.

And Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Monday raised Ottawa’s concerns with US President Mike Pence on the sidelines of Venezuela crisis talks in Bogota, as well as with other US officials.

With a general election scheduled in October, Canadian lawmakers would need to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement before the end of the current parliamentary session on June 6.

The leaders of Canada, the US and Mexico signed the successor deal to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in November, after more than a year of negotiations.

US President Donald Trump imposed the steep tariffs on aluminum and steel imports last year, saying it was important to national security to protect the domestic industry from allegedly unfair foreign competition.

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