Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is calling on fellow Republican President Donald Trump to “promptly” lift tariffs on aluminum and steel from Mexico and Canada. Grassley says that move would “immediately clear a significant hurdle” for Congress to pass legislation to implement the U-S-Mexico-Canada Agreement (U-S-M-C-A), the replacement for NAFTA.

“He put those tariffs on because Mexico and Canada weren’t negotiating,” Grassley says. “They’ve negotiated an agreement that the president likes. I like it. So, the president is just about ready to declare victory when he takes those tariffs off. I want to help him get them off. I think he needs encouragement.” Grassley’s op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday called for Trump to put an immediate end to the tariffs with our North American neighbors. Grassley says, “If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead.” In a conference call with Iowa reporters today (Tuesday), Grassley says it’s important the president act soon.

“We need to get this done this year because next year is a presidential election year and we won’t get it done then,” Grassley says. “As far as Canada is concerned, they need to get it done in the next six weeks because they adjourn in June for an election in October and it may not be done in Canada if it isn’t done before the election. Who knows about a new government up there?” If the president takes the lead to eliminate tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico, Grassley says it would enable the administration to work with those allies to address the true source of the trade troubles, which Grassley says is China.

“The president, in order to have credibility with Japan, Europe and China, (with whom) we’re negotiating separate agreements, we won’t have any credibility if we don’t get this done,” Grassley says. “In fact, the China negotiations are much more important even than what we accomplish with Mexico and Canada.” Grassley says such trade deals are vital to our country and especially to farm states like Iowa. Since passage of NAFTA in 1994, Grassley says agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled, while corn exports increased sevenfold. After the U-S imposed the tariffs on metals from Mexico, that nation launched retaliatory tariffs on several products, including pork, which Grassley says lowered the value of live hogs by $12 an animal, hurting Iowa producers.