Trump: ‘I Don’t Think You’ll Have a Trade War’

By Melanie Arter | March 5, 2018 | 9:23pm EST
President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump on Monday tried to dispel fears among some in the Republican Party that his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will start a trade war.

“I don't think you'll have a trade war,” Trump told reporters prior to a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

“No trade war?” a reporter asked.

“I don’t think so. I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war, no,” Trump said.

A reporter asked the president about House Speaker Paul Ryan’s fear that Trump’s decision to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports for a “long period of time” will touch off a trade war.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan. The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains,” said Ryan’s spokeswoman Ashlee Strong said.

“Are you going to back down on the tariffs?” a reporter asked Trump.

“No, we're not backing down,” Trump said. “We've had a very bad deal with Mexico, a very bad deal with Canada. It's called NAFTA. Our factories have left our country. Our jobs have left our country. For many years NAFTA has been a disaster. We are renegotiating NAFTA, as I said I would, and if we don't make a deal, I'll terminate NAFTA.

“But if I do make a deal which is fair to the workers and to the American people, that would be, I would imagine, one of the points that we'll negotiate. It will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico,” the president said. “So we'll see what happens, but right now, 100 percent, but it could be a part of NAFTA.

“And I understand -- I just got a call from the people who are right now in Mexico City negotiating NAFTA. Mexico and, really, Canada want to talk about it, but if they aren't going to make a fair NAFTA deal, we're just going to leave it this way,” he said.

As far as trade goes, Trump said, the United States “has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it's friend or enemy -- everybody - China, Russia.” The European Union, he said, has trade barriers to guard against other countries taking advantage of them.

The president said if the EU wants “to do something,” the United States will tax the cars that they export to America.

“And take people that we think are wonderful -- the European Union -- we can't do business in there. They don't allow it. They have trade barriers that are worse than tariffs. They also have tariffs, by the way, but they have trade barriers far worse than tariffs, and if they want to do something, we'll just tax their cars that they send in here like water,” Trump said.

He said the United States has been losing $800 billion annually on trade, and he singled out China as “the biggest problem.”

“So we may have friends, but remember this: We lost, over the last number of years, $800 billion a year. Not a half a million dollars, not 12 cents. We lost $800 billion a year on trade - not going to happen. We got to get it back,” Trump said. “And, of course, the biggest problem -- the biggest problem is China. We lost $500 billion.  How previous presidents allowed that to happen is disgraceful, but we're going to take care of it,” Trump said.


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