Trump: ‘We’re not backing down’ on steel tariffs
President Trump on #tariffs and trade: "No, we're not backing down."
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President Trump on Monday said he will not reverse his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, predicting the U.S. could avoid a trade war if he forges ahead.
“No, we’re not backing down,” Trump told reporters at the White House, saying the U.S. “has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy,” on trade.
Asked if the move could trigger a global trade war, Trump responded, “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”
The president spoke during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump’s comments come as he is facing mounting pressure from Republicans in Congress and business groups to go back on his decision.
In a rare move, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) publicly rebuked the president’s decision to levy the tariffs against imported steel and aluminum.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement on Monday. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”
Ryan’s office said that the Speaker has shared his concerns personally with the president “on multiple occasions,” including last week.
Republicans, and some Democrats, argue that tariffs could drive up the price of consumer goods and hurt U.S. industries that use steel to produce their products.
Foreign governments have also threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on American consumer goods that could make them less competitive in overseas markets.
But the president is making it clear he is determined to take action against what he says are foreign governments’ unfair trade practices, a central theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump acknowledged just last Friday that such efforts could spark a trade war, comments that he appeared to contradict on Monday.
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” he tweeted.
Trump tied the tariffs to the ongoing effort to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, suggesting he could drop the penalties if the two U.S. neighbors make concessions on the broader trade pact.
“I would imagine one of the points we will negotiate — tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico,” Trump said. “Right now, 100 percent. But it could be a part of NAFTA.”
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