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Mnuchin optimistic on trade battles; Wall Street approves

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday that the U.S. is making progress on lifting tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico, potentially overcoming a key hurdle toward approval of a trade agreement between the three countries.

Addressing another contentious trade issue, Mnuchin said he expects to soon travel to Beijing with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to resume negotiations on the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

Mnuchin’s positive comments on trade before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee helped reverse early losses on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a gain of 115 points.

“I think we are close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada,” Mnuchin said in a response to a question on the status of the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on the two countries.

President Donald Trump last year slapped tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from China and a number of other nations, invoking a rarely used provision of a 1962 law to claim that the foreign metals posed a threat to U.S. national security.

The administration retained the tariffs on Canada and Mexico even after the two countries agreed to Trump’s demands to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 1994.