Trump, Swedish leader clash on tariffs at joint press conference

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' MORE clashed with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at a joint press conference in the White House on Tuesday over his plans to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump stressed he will move ahead with his plan to slap major tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, despite dire warnings from Republican lawmakers and even some of his own advisers.

“So, we're doing tariffs on steel,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Löfven. 

Trump defended the tariffs, arguing that a trade war wouldn’t be bad for the United States given its trade deficits with the European Union — of which Sweden is a member — and other countries.

"When we're behind on every single country, trade wars aren't so bad,” the president said, adding that he will impose the tariffs in a “loving way.”
 
But Löfven offered opposition to Trump’s face.
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“I'm convinced that increased tariffs will hurt us all in the long run,” Löfven said in his opening remarks before the press conference, as Trump stood by. “As a Swede I support the efforts of the European Union to achieve trade with fewer obstacles, as few as possible.”

Trump was asked about that conflict but held the line, saying that the U.S. is being taken advantage of and that tariffs are necessary to keep the country competitive.

The president singled out the European Union and threatened a new tax on their cars.

“The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States; they make it almost impossible for us to do business with them,” the president said.
 
“And yet they send their cars and everything else back into the United States and they can do whatever they'd like. But if they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars and they won't be doing it very long. The European Union has not treated us well. And it's been a very, very unfair trade situation.”
 
Trump also said he believed he had been elected in part on the issue of trade, and that he would no longer let the United States lose on the issue.

Trump’s impromptu tariff announcement last week exposed deep rifts within his White House over the issue. 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossLobbying World Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question MORE, a vocal protectionist, attended the president’s news conference in the East Room while National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who opposes the tariffs, did not. 
 
Jordan Fabian contributed to this story.