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UPDATE 1-U.S. nears removal of tariffs on Canada, Mexico metals - media

(Adds details, background)

WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) - The United States is close to a deal to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, which could help the three countries' trade pact get ratified in the U.S. Congress, according to media reports on Friday.

Bloomberg reported that the effective date for removing the tariffs was the outstanding issue. Politico reported an agreement could be reached as early as Friday although negotiations were ongoing.

Representatives for the U.S. Trade Representative's office and Mexican counterparts could not be immediately reached for comment. The foreign ministry in Canada had no immediate comment.

U.S., Canadian and Mexican officials are seeking to resolve a dispute over the metals tariffs as they seek ratification of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal (USMCA).

Lifting the tariffs was seen as a key hurdle to enacting the deal, which would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Dave Lawder; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Susan Thomas)