Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Morneau hopes new NAFTA deal signed next week, stresses tariff issue is separate

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canada is working with the U.S. to solve the tit-for-tat tariff dispute.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says he’s hopeful the newly struck North American free-trade deal will be signed next week — and suggests Canada could sign even with stinging U.S. tariffs in place.

Morneau was asked by reporters after a speech today if the government should still consider signing the new continental trade deal even if the United States keeps its heavy import taxes on Canadian aluminum and steel.

He says Canada is working with the U.S. to solve the tit-for-tat tariff dispute and he stresses Ottawa won’t make one set of negotiations contingent on another.

Morneau says there’s work going on behind the scenes to make sure the legal document defining the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (or USMCA) is exactly as agreed and adds that he has every reason to believe the work is moving along at a good pace.

He was speaking to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa this morning, one day after he released a fall economic statement packed with billions of dollars worth of tax incentives for corporate Canada.

Ottawa’s long-awaited plan to help the country compete with the United States for investment dollars comes in response to major American tax and regulatory reforms that many in the business community warn has eliminated Canada’s edge as an investment destination.

Read more: Canada could ratify new NAFTA even if U.S. tariffs stay put: Trudeau

Read more: Trudeau to meet key Pacific trade partners at APEC leaders’ summit

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