Canada’s finance minister says that the end to the country’s tariff battle with the United States over steel and aluminum products clears a path for a final sign-off on a new free trade deal.

“The work that we needed to get done has been done,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau told BNN Bloomberg on Friday.

“This change enables, in both Canada and Mexico, it enables us to go forward because clearly the tariffs were a barrier towards our ratification. We’ve removed that barrier.”

Why a new NAFTA might be difficult to ratify before the summer

Mark Warner, principal at MAAW Law, joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss how soon we could see a new trade agreement, after the U.S. agrees to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

However, Morneau was less clear on whether the removal of the Section 232 national security tariffs on Canada and the retaliatory ones implemented shortly thereafter would clear the path to ratifying the trade deal with the U.S.

“Obviously, this is something that can be advantageous in their own process, but I’m not going to give you my sense of when that will happen because there’s a series of discussions that are going on there,” Morneau said.

“It does create a higher level of optimism that we’ll be able to get through this but there’s more work to be done on their front.”

Morneau did stress that the removal of the tariffs strengthens the relationship between the two traditional allies.

“It’s a breakthrough,” he said.

“We’ve gotten to a place where we’ve completely moved away from the steel and aluminum tariffs. It means we’re no longer managing that sector in a way that’s causing big challenges for both producers and users of steel and aluminum.”

The removal of the tariffs also shifts Canada’s focus to the ongoing trade negotiations between China and the U.S., and how they’ve affected both global confidence as well as Canada’s relationship with the Chinese.

“From our perspective, what we do on a very regular basis is ensure that the Americans recognize how important it is that we deal with those issues that we’re seeing,” Morneau said, referencing Canada’s relationship with China, the ongoing blockade of Canadian canola and the formal arrests of two Canadians living in China.

“[The U.S.-China trade talks] do impact global confidence,” Morneau added. “They do impact global growth. My sense is that there’s progress being made, and, obviously, we’re hopeful that they do make progress.”