June 26, 2018 / 8:47 PM / a year ago

Canada's finance minister says wants NAFTA talks to resume soon

Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks during a news conference following a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 26, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Tuesday he wants NAFTA negotiations to resume as soon as possible, adding that while the Canadian economy was doing well tariffs imposed by the United States on steel and aluminum were a problem.

He declined to comment on what aid the Canadian government might offer to workers or businesses affected by the tariffs but said there would be an announcement in the coming days.

The United States has linked removal of the tariffs to progress in slow-moving talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement, which are on hold until after Mexico’s July 1 presidential election.

“We intend on getting back to the table with the Americans as soon as possible to talk about how we can move forward constructively to get to what we hope will be an improved NAFTA agreement,” Morneau told reporters after meeting finance ministers from Canada’s 10 provinces.

Canada has vowed to retaliate against the U.S. tariffs on July 1 and Morneau made clear Ottawa’s position had not changed.

Morneau, asked whether he was worried that deteriorating relations with the United States could help trigger a recession, replied: “The economy right now is in a good position ... but of course a problem with U.S. changes (of policy) is a problem.”

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Andrea Hopkins; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown

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