OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau will discuss trade and infrastructure financing during a bilateral meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the G7 meeting in Bari, Italy, this week, a senior Canadian finance official said on Monday.
Trade in dairy and softwood lumber has emerged as a major irritant between Canada and the United States in recent weeks, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is under pressure to protect Canadian jobs as U.S. President Donald Trump forces the renegotiation of NAFTA, the trilateral free trade agreement with Mexico, Canada and the United States.
Trade is not part of the formal agenda of the meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of Seven rich nations in Italy this week but it will be discussed as part of the broader economic growth discussion and Morneau will raise the issue in bilateral meetings with Mnuchin, the source said.
Washington last month imposed tariffs on timber imports, alleging they are unfairly subsidized, prompting Trudeau to say he was considering a ban on exports of U.S. coal through Pacific ports.
In a briefing with reporters, the senior finance official said Morneau will speak as a proponent of free trade as a driver of innovation and economic growth.
Trade emerged as a sticking point at the meeting of the larger Group of 20 financial leaders in Baden Baden, Germany, in March, when ministers dropped their traditional pledge to keep global free trade open, acquiescing to an increasingly protectionist United States.
A formal joint statement will be issued at the end of the meeting, the official said. The statement will make reference to exchange rates and there already has been an agreement to maintain the language used by the G20 in Baden Baden, he said.
Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by G Crosse and Bill Trott