Trump Didn’t Have A Meeting Scheduled With Trudeau — But He Canceled It Anyway

President Donald Trump claimed he snubbed a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations this week. “I’ve told him forget about it,” Trump remarked Wednesday during a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Canada, however, was quick to cry foul. No such meeting was ever requested, a Trudeau spokesman told CNN, adding: “We do not have any comment beyond that.”

The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the U.S. and Canada’s acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors.

Speaking at the news conference, Trump alleged he refused a “one-on-one meeting” with Trudeau because of Canada’s high dairy tariffs and poor “negotiating style.” He also took a shot at Canada’s “representative” in the NAFTA negotiations, an apparent reference to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been leading Canada’s negotiations with the U.S.

Trudeau’s “tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” Trump said. “That’s the mother lode. That’s the big one.”

He added: “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”

Trudeau and Trump were captured on camera briefly shaking hands on Tuesday during a luncheon for world leaders.

Trudeau, who was standing, tapped Trump’s shoulder to greet him. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. Trump’s decision to stay seated during the exchange has been described as a snub and as showing a lack of diplomatic etiquette.

Trump and Trudeau share a rocky history. In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

In response, Trump lambasted the prime minister on Twitter as being “very dishonest & weak.”

The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.

NAFTA, a trilateral trade pact comprising the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been in force since 1994.

[Huffington Post]

Donald Trump accuses Canadians of smuggling shoes home from U.S.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called Canada “brutal,” accused Canada’s prime minister of being “weak,” and taken aim at Canada’s supply management system for dairy.

Now he is calling Canadians shoe smugglers.

Speaking to the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Americans are “treated horribly” by Canadians who return home with U.S.-purchased shoes they have smuggled across the border. (CHRIS KLEPONIS – POOL / GETTY IMAGES)

In the latest salvo in the president’s multi-front attack on Canadian trade practices, Trump told a story Tuesday about Canadians who cross the U.S. border to buy shoes. The tale left trade experts and apparel industry officials scratching their heads.

Trump launched into it while delivering a rambling speech, focused on illegal immigration, to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming to the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ‘em in,” Trump said, apparently referring to an essay in the New York Post by Canadian journalist Isabel Vincent. “They buy shoes, then they wear them. They scuff ’em up. They make them sound old or look old. No, we’re treated horribly.”

There was a grain of truth to the story. Crossing the border to shop in the U.S. and then sneaking an item or two past customs on the way back is a time-honoured Canadian pastime. On Twitter, several Canadians immediately confessed to making furtive attempts to make their new shoes look well-worn.

But there is no indication that any of this has anything to do with tariffs. And Trump’s claim that this shop-and-hide practice results in the U.S. being mistreated makes no sense at all, trade and apparel experts said.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, the U.S. industry’s lobby group, said in a statement: “The president seems misinformed about footwear trade.”

“On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America. It helps both our brands and retailers grow. Period,” the group said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

Under NAFTA, there are no Canadian tariffs on shoes manufactured in the U.S. Since more than 95 per cent of shoes sold in the U.S. are made abroad, any Canadian shoppers avoiding Canada’s tariffs upon their return home are actually avoiding tariffs on foreign-made items, mostly made-in-Asia goods.

In other words, Trump was complaining about Canadians spending money at U.S. stores and then refusing to pay the Canadian government for goods made in other countries — a process that does not victimize the U.S. in any way.

“There doesn’t seem to be an issue. I’m not sure why we’re talking about this. Yet again, we’re being led down this path when there really isn’t anything there,” said Bob Kirke, executive director of the Canadian Apparel Federation. “I feel like I’m going down the rabbit hole here.”

In a tweet to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the U.S. industry group added: “The US Footwear Industry welcomes you and all Canadians to come buy shoes in America! As many as you want — and scuff them up if you want, we can sell you more!”

Kirke said he doesn’t think “there’s any negotiation or discussion around footwear tariffs or rules of origin in the current NAFTA negotiation. Zero. Zip.” And he said lower shoe prices in the U.S. are a result of the competitiveness of the U.S. retail market, not tariffs.

“Both countries have tariffs on imported footwear,” said Karl Littler, vice-president of public affairs at the Retail Council of Canada. “His critique of Canada he might level at the U.S. system as well.”

Canadians don’t have to pay duties on their first $200 in purchases if they’re in the U.S. for 24 hours. They get an $800 exemption if they’re away 48 hours.

Another cross-border shopping issue has been significant in NAFTA talks: Canada’s $20 threshold, one of the lowest in the world, for duties on shipments mailed from abroad. The U.S. threshold is $800, and the Trump administration has called on Canada to raise its own.

On Tuesday, Trump again floated the idea of making separate deals with Canada and Mexico rather than preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also made some of his usual false claims about the trade balance with Canada, and he again criticized Canada’s dairy tariffs.

“We can no longer be the stupid country. We want to be the smart country. So hopefully we’ll be able to work it out with Canada. We have very good relationships with Canada, we have for a long time, and hopefully that’ll work out, but Canada’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer. And Mexico’s not going to take advantage of the United States any longer,” he said.

Trump also scoffed at Trudeau’s argument against the steel and aluminum tariffs that Trump imposed on “national security” grounds. Trudeau has invoked the Canadian soldiers who have fought and died with American soldiers. On Tuesday, Trump paraphrased the argument with a hint of mockery.

“By the way, Canada, they like to talk,” Trump said to laughter. “They’re our great neighbour. They fought World War II with us. We appreciate it. They fought World War I with us, and we appreciate it. But we’re protecting each other.”

[Toronto Star]

Trump Slams Trudeau From North Korea Summit: His Mistakes Will ‘Cost Him a Lot of Money

President Donald Trump is standing by his criticism of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — warning Trudeau that his remarks at the G7 summit will “cost him a lot of money.”

Last Friday, Trump — feeling slighted by Trudeau, who took a tough stance toward U.S. tariffs by saying he wouldn’t tolerate being “pushed around” — launched an attack via Twitter, calling the leader “dishonest” and “weak.”

In an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos which aired Tuesday, immediately following the president’s meeting in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Trump appeared to take a softer tone toward Trudeau, admitting he likes him, but suggesting he wants to punish him for his remarks.

“I actually like Justin,” Trump said. “I think he’s good. I like him. But he shouldn’t have done that. That was a mistake. That’s gonna cost him a lot of money”

According to Trump’s account of the moment, G7 attendees were content following the conclusion of the meetings until Trudeau took his stand.

“Everybody was happy, and then he gave out a little bit of an obnoxious thing,” Trump said of the prime minister.

The president repeated his threats to make Canada pay during a press conference in Singapore after his visit with Kim ended

“I have a good relationship with Justin Trudeau,” Trump told the crowd. “I really did. Other than he had a news conference that he had cause he assumed I was in an airplane and I wasn’t watching. He learned, that’s going to cost a lot of money to the people of Canada.”

[Mediaite]

Media

Trump rips Canada, NATO in Singapore tweetstorm

President Donald Trump started his day in Singapore on Monday blasting the Canadian Prime Minister and slamming NATO just after meeting with the U.S. allies at the G-7 meeting in Quebec.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump tweeted Monday morning in Singapore. “According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

Trump was referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the tweet.

The president has accused Canada of taking advantage of American workers through their trade practices.

According to the U.S. trade representative, however, there was an $8.4 billion U.S. trade surplus with Canada on goods and services in 2017.

Trump also took aim at NATO for relying too heavily on the U.S. for their security.

“The U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!),” Trump tweeted. “The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

The U.S. pays 22% of NATO’s budget — higher than any other nation.

The U.S. has pushed NATO member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP — a benchmark some have been unable to meet.

Trump was in Singapore preparing for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump wrote.

[New York Post]

Kudlow: Trudeau ‘stabbed us in the back’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow repeatedly accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “betrayal” and saying he “stabbed us in the back” for standing up to President Donald Trump after the G-7 meeting.

Speaking hours after Trump ordered the U.S. not to endorse the G-7 communique, Kudlow slammed Trudeau for a “sophomoric play” in holding a press conference after the G-7 meetings and saying Canadians “will not be pushed around.” Soon afterward, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would not participate in the G-7 communique agreed to earlier on Saturday.

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” said Kudlow, the White House National Economic Council director, speaking on CNN‘s “State of the Union.“

Kudlow, who said he was in the bilateral meeting with Trudeau and Trump, said the two leaders “were getting along famously.”

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA, bilaterally perhaps, and then we leave and Trudeau pulls this sophomoric, political stunt for domestic consumption.”

Kudlow told Jake Tapper he likes Trudeau personally, but that the Canadian leader was trying to score political points in attacking Trump.

“Trudeau made an error. He should take it back. He should pull back on his statements,” Kudlow said.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump left the G-7 and did a news conference bashing Canada on trade. Then Trudeau did a news conference in which he said the same things about the steel/aluminum tariffs he’s been saying for a week.

They were not close to making a bilateral NAFTA deal. He’s just making things up.

Ah, Kudlow finally explains what’s going on here: “Now, POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this — he is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

So…per the White House, Trump is insulting the prime minister of Canada because he wants to impress Kim Jong Un.

Trump Shocks Leaders With Trudeau Insult to Upend G-7 Summit

President Donald Trump told U.S. officials not to endorse the Group of Seven’s final communique and accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of being dishonest, escalating a trade spat that had simmered throughout the two-day meeting.

Trump, who is on a plane to Singapore, unleashed two Twitter posts about two hours after Trudeau spoke, saying the U.S. would look at tariffs on automobiles that he said were “flooding the U.S. market.”

His comments threaten to undermine a grouping that has long acted as a defender of the global system of trade rules, and cause fresh friction with his northern neighbor as tensions percolate over efforts to redraw the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” Trump said on his Twitter account on Saturday evening.

The reference to cars is not new. Trump last month directed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to initiate a national-security investigation into imports of cars, trucks and vehicle parts that could possibly lead to tariffs. Canada would be among the biggest losers from such a move as the second-largest supplier of foreign vehicles to the U.S.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

The investigation into cars is seen by some as a way for the U.S. to gain leverage in the talks to revamp Nafta, including Mexico, which is the largest source of U.S. auto imports.

Trump’s comments on Saturday came shortly after Trudeau, who was hosting the G-7 meeting in Canada, had projected an image of cooperation. At his closing press conference as the summit’s chair, Trudeau announced all G-7 nations had worked hard to finalize a joint statement, which largely committed the nations to keep talking on trade.

Still, Trudeau also gave an account of his discussions with the U.S. president. Trudeau said he told Trump in candid conversations that U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed this month were “insulting” and that Canada will move forward with counter-tariffs.

Trump said that retaliation is a “mistake,” according to Trudeau.

Canada is “polite, we’re reasonable but we also will not be pushed around,” Trudeau added.

Trudeau responded with a written statement, saying his comments in public and in private with Trump were “nothing he hasn’t said before” and that he was “focused on everything we accomplished here at the G-7 summit.”

Trump left the summit early Saturday, before it officially ended, to head to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Copies of the communique stamped with “approuve,” or approved in French, were being circulated around the G-7 media center in Quebec City as Trump made his order on Twitter. The statement had been published online before Trump commented.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!,” Trump said in a second post.

Trump has complained repeatedly — including throughout the summit — about Canada’s protected dairy sector, citing 270 percent tariffs that he says stand in the way of American farmers accessing that market.

Canada’s system of quotas and tariffs for dairy, poultry and eggs, known as supply management, is something of a sacred cow — all major political parties support it, and, given the value of existing quotas, farm groups erupt when changes are discussed. Trump has called for the full dismantling of that system over 10 years.

[Bloomberg]

Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 summit

President Trump on Thursday lashed out at the leaders of France and Canada over roiling trade disputes, setting the stage for a confrontational Group of Seven summit of major economic powers.

A day before leaving for the meeting in Canada, Trump singled out French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter for threatening to isolate the U.S. over his efforts to change global trade rules.

“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” Trump wrote. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out.”

The president added: “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”

The message shows the depth of Trump’s unhappiness about the summit, where he is expected to take major backlash over his trade policies.

Macron and Trudeau met in Ottawa, Canada, this week ahead of the summit and presented a united front against Trump’s tack toward protectionism.

Asked during a joint press conference if Trump does not care about “being isolated” from other world leaders, Macron responded, “Maybe, but nobody is forever.”

“The six countries of the G7 without the United States, are a bigger market taken together than the American market,” Macron said.

Macron threatened to sign a joint communique at the conclusion with the summit with five other nations — but not the U.S. — expressing their desire for free trade.

“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” he tweeted. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”

The president imposed steep steel and aluminum tariffs late last month on Canada, Mexico and the European Union — some of the U.S.’s closest allies.

The administration used a little-known legal provision that allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs on those goods for national security reasons.

[The Hill]

Reality

U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled nearly $1.1 trillion in 2016.  Exports totaled $501 billion; Imports totaled $592 billion.  The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the EU was $92 billion in 2016.

Trump invokes War of 1812 in testy call with Trudeau over tariffs

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a testy phone call on May 25 over new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration targeting steel and aluminum imports coming from Canada, including one moment during the conversation in which Trump made an erroneous historical reference, sources familiar with the discussion told CNN.

According to the sources, Trudeau pressed Trump on how he could justify the tariffs as a “national security” issue. In response, Trump quipped to Trudeau, “Didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the War of 1812.

The problem with Trump’s comments to Trudeau is that British troops burned down the White House during the War of 1812. Historians note the British attack on Washington was in retaliation for the American attack on York, Ontario, in territory that eventually became Canada, which was then a British colony.

When asked if the comment was received as a joke, one source on the call said: “To the degree one can ever take what is said as a joke. The impact on Canada and ultimately on workers in the US won’t be a laughing matter.”

The White House declined to comment and the National Security Council did not immediately return a CNN request for comment.

Asked about the state of US-Canada relations, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow acknowledged some short-term tensions, but said he believes relations between the two countries remain “very good.”

“I have no doubt that the United States and Canada will remain firm friends and allies whatever short-term disagreements may occur,” Kudlow said.

During the Burning of Washington, on August 24, 1814, first lady Dolley Madison famously rescued a portrait of George Washington before fleeing the White House.

Trudeau has publicly denounced the “national security” justification for the new tariffs.

“The idea that we are somehow a national security threat to the United States is, quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable,” Trudeau told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland questioned the Trump administration’s move on CNN.

“And I would just say to all of Canada’s American friends — and there are so many — seriously? Do you really believe that Canada, that your NATO allies, represent a national security threat to you?” Freeland asked on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Freeland met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker Monday to relay Canada’s concerns regarding the tariffs, a Corker spokeswoman told CNN.

Corker, whose state of Tennessee is home to foreign and domestic auto plants, questioned Trump’s national security justification in a statement last week.

“There is no reason to use this provision to consider imposing tariffs on the automobile industry, and this appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately,” Corker said in the statement.

Trump defended his decision on tariffs on Canada and other US allies in a tweet over the weekend.

“The United States must, at long last, be treated fairly on trade,” the President tweeted on Saturday.

A senior administration official declined to discuss the specifics of Trump’s phone call with Trudeau but acknowledged some of the President’s conversations with his foreign counterparts on the subject of trade have been confrontational.

“It’s understandable that change causes friction,” the official said, noting some of Trump’s recent tariff announcements have brought stubborn trading partners back to the negotiating table.

Canadian officials confirm to CNN that months ago Trump personally assured Trudeau that Canada would likely be exempt from steel and aluminum tariffs. The Trump administration at one point granted Canada and Mexico a last-minute reprieve from tariffs in March as negotiations to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, continued.

In April, Canada tried to address what Trump said were concerns about Chinese steel and aluminum being dumped into Canada and then being shipped into the United States.

Trudeau announced increased funding and border vigilance “to prevent transshipment and diversion of unfairly priced foreign steel and aluminum into the North American market,” according to a statement released in April.

It was the understanding of Canadians officials at the time that this would satisfy the Trump administration and allow for Canada to receive a permanent exemption from tariffs.

Just days before Trudeau is set to host a G7 Summit in Quebec, Canadian officials tell CNN they are just trying to “keep Trump happy.”

Asked about Trump’s remark that the Canadians burned down the White House, aides to the President and to Canada’s Trudeau declined to comment.

[CNN]

Reality

Canada wasn’t a country until 1840.

Trump tears into Canada for treating U.S. farmers ‘very poorly’

President Donald Trump attacked Canada on Friday morning, seemingly offering a defense of the controversial tariffs he imposed this week and accusing America’s northern neighbor of treating U.S. agricultural industries “very poorly.”

“Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade!” the president wrote on Twitter. “They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”

Trump has made resetting U.S. trade relationships around the globe a key priority for his administration, most notably with China, but also with top U.S. allies and trade partners like Mexico and Canada. He has complained previously about Canada’s treatment of the U.S. lumber and dairy industries, among others.

His attack against Canada came just hours after tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from three key U.S. trade partners — Mexico, Canada and the European Union — went into effect at midnight Friday, after the administration said on Thursday that exemptions would not be extended.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a blistering rebuke to Trump during a news conference on Thursday.

“Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Trudeau said. “Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.”

The tariffs have proved to be a controversial step that has also drawn the ire of prominent Republicans who have long supported free trade policies.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement that “I disagree with this decision” and that “instead of addressing the real problems in the international trade of these products, today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a regular and outspoken critic of the president’s, said the tariffs were similar to the policies that he said sparked the Great Depression.

“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” Sasse said. “‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

[Politico]

Trump imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies and Europe retaliates

President Trump followed through on a threat to impose steep metal tariffs on U.S. allies Thursday, a long-awaited decision that analysts said moved the country closer to a trade war.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Canada, Mexico and the European Union would be subject to a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum beginning at midnight on Thursday. Brazil, Argentina and Australia agreed to limit steel exports to the U.S. to avoid tariffs, he said.

“The president’s overwhelming objective is to reduce our trade deficit,” Ross said.

The decision was the latest by the Trump administration to project a more protectionist stance amid ongoing trade negotiations with China and other countries. But it drew a sharp rebuke and promises of retaliation from longstanding allies.

“These tariffs are totally unacceptable,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. “These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States.”

European trade officials have previously threatened to respond to Trump’s move with  duties on U.S.-made motorcycles, orange juice and bourbon, among other things. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, reiterated that position Thursday, saying Europe would impose duties on “a number of imports from the U.S.”

“This is protectionism, pure and simple,” he said.

The Mexican economic ministry said it would move to place tariffs on U.S.-made pork, flat steel, apples, cheese and other products.

Trump announced the tariff and aluminum tariffs in early March but offered temporary exemptions to the European Union, Canada, Mexico and a number of other allies. He extended those exemptions in late April, noting at the time it would be the “final” delay unless the countries agreed to other concessions.

“We are awaiting their reaction,” Ross said of the other countries. “We continue to remain quite willing, indeed eager, to continue discussions.”

The move promoted criticism from a number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially those with large agricultural industries.

“This is dumb,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. “Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents.”

The decision comes days after the Trump administration announced $50 billion of new tariffs on Chinese imports, after officials had earlier said it was “putting the trade war on hold” with Beijing. Ross is set to travel to China this weekend to continue trade talks.

The Trump administration has relied on a 1962 law that allows countries to impose trade restrictions for national security purposes. The president has also justified the tariffs by pointing out “shuttered plants and mills” and the decades-long slide of manufacturing.

Several analysts said they are concerned the approach will have the opposite effect.

“The initial blows in the trade wars have finally landed,” said Eswar S. Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China division and a professor at Cornell University. “It is now clear that Trump’s threats about trade sanctions are more than just bluster and are to be taken seriously.”

Prasad said the hard line approach might net Trump some short-term wins, but said “it could eventually result in the U.S. playing a diminished” role in global trade.

“He doesn’t have a strategy that’s going to lead to making American manufacturing great again,” said Robert Scott, a trade expert at the Economic Policy Institute. “There will continue to be a series of tit-for-tat battles.”

The U.S. imported 34.6 million metric tons of steel last year, a 15% increase from 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Canada was the top source of U.S. imported steel, accounting for 77%, according to the International Trade Administration. Mexican steel accounts for about 9% of U.S. imports.

The majority of that metal is used in construction, auto manufacturing and appliances.

The tariffs, as well as export controls agreed to by Brazil and others, will raise the price of steel and aluminum in the U.S., making domestic producers more competitive while adding to the price buyers of the metals must pay.

“We think that’s going to put the industry in real peril,” said Jerry Howard, president of the National Association of Home Builders. “We were very excited by the tax bill, but it turns out the tax bill giveth, and tariffs taketh away.”

Ann Wilson with the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association said its members are already paying tariffs on many of the components they import to make auto parts. Imposing additional barriers on the metals used to make those parts, she said, amounts to a “double tariff.”

“There is little doubt that the uncertainty and added costs the administration is creating will put U.S. investments and jobs at risk,” Wilson said.

Steel trade with Canada and Mexico is covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the president is relying on a provision of U.S. law that allows him to claim the imports represent a threat to national security.

Many observers believe the announcement Thursday is the latest effort to prod stalled negotiations over rewriting NAFTA, which Trump repeatedly promised to do during his campaign for president.

“This really is an attempt to strengthen the negotiating power of the U.S. when it comes to renegotiating NAFTA,” said Ned Hill, who teaches economic development at Ohio State University. “This is just very public, bare-knuckle negotiating.”

[USA Today]

Reality

Trump promised he would go after countries who “cheated” in trade, but we do not have a major trade imbalance with our friends and allies.

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