( File photo )

The U.S. has reached a deal with Mexico and Canada to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from those countries. 

That could speed progress of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and also lead to removal of Mexico’s retaliatory tariff of 20% on apples.

“I am pleased to announce that we've just reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico, and we will be sending our product into those countries without the imposition of tariffs or major tariffs,” Trump said Friday. “Hopefully, Congress will pass the USMCA quickly.”

In June last year, Mexico applied retaliatory tariffs of 20% on U.S. fresh apples, frozen potatoes, dried cranberries and other agricultural and non-agricultural products in response to the president Trump’s June 1 steel and aluminum tariffs. Canada also issued retaliatory tariffs but only targeted cucumbers from U.S. fresh produce.

The lifting of the steel and aluminum tariffs is good news for the Washington apple industry, said Todd Fryhover, president of the Wenatchee-based Washington Apple Commission.

While passage of the USMCA is important, Fryhover said removal of Mexico’s retaliatory tariff would have an immediate beneficial effect for Washington apple growers.

Fryhover said he expects Mexico to immediately lift their retaliatory tariffs on apples if the U.S. removes tariffs on Mexico’s steel and aluminum. 

From January through March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported exports of fresh apples to Mexico totaled $70.1 million, off 20% from the same period a year ago.

Jim Bair, president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, issued a statement commending the administration for removing the steel and aluminum tariffs on trade with Mexico and Canada.

“We welcome the return of duty-free access to Mexico, our largest export market, and continued duty-free access to Canada, our number-two market," Bair said in the statement. "The two countries combined represent a half-billion-dollar market for U.S. apple growers."

The association is focused on the ratification of the USMCA, Bair said in the statement.