March 4, 2018 / 3:52 PM / 15 days ago

Canada's Freeland to meet top U.S. Congressmen amid trade row-lawmaker

MEXICO CITY, March 4 (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will on Sunday meet a top U.S. Republican lawmaker overseeing trade as tensions between the two neighbors ramp up over possible American steel and aluminum tariffs.

Freeland will hold talks with a bipartisan Congressional delegation led by Kevin Brady, the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee that oversees U.S. trade policy.

Representative Sander Levin, a Democrat member of the delegation, told reporters on Sunday that the delegation had requested the talks with Freeland.

“One-on-one is always best,” he said.

The meeting will take place a day before the end of the seventh round of talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which have been complicated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s promise to impose steel and aluminum tariffs.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Sunday that Trump had spoken to world leaders about his planned tariff hikes and was not considering any exemptions to the measure.

Canada, the single largest supplier of both steel and aluminum to the United States, has threatened retaliation if it is not removed from the list.

Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator on Sunday said the tariffs issue had made the talks more complex.

The U.S. lawmakers had initially asked to meet Freeland during the previous round of talks to modernize NAFTA in Montreal in late January.

Levin said he would be pressing Freeland about labor standards and rules governing content in autos made in North America - two of the most contentious topics at the NAFTA talks.

The current Mexico City round will end on Monday with meetings between Freeland, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo to determine the next steps.

Canadian officials had not said anything about a meeting with Brady and his delegation. Freeland’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment. (Reporting by David Ljunggren and Lesley Wroughton Editing by Phil Berlowitz )

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