Trump: ‘No, We’re Not Backing Down’ On Tariffs Unless We Get Better NAFTA Deal

on March 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images North America

President Donald Trump on Monday afternoon again suggested that if he’s pleased with the renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, then he may reconsider his decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

If not, “we’re not backing down,” he told reporters during a pool spray with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday.

“No, we’re not backing down,” Trump said in response to questions about the proposed new tariffs. “We’ve had a very bad deal with Mexico, a very bad deal with Canada. … 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, will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico. We’ll see what happens, but right now 100 percent, but it could be a part of NAFTA.”

It was not clear whether that meant he wouldn’t impose tariffs on just Mexico and Canada or all foreign imports of aluminum and steel.

Trump tweeted Monday morning suggesting he might ditch plans for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum if renegotiations of NAFTA go smoothly. Republicans and foreign leaders have expressed concern over the tariff proposals he announced last week. On Monday afternoon, Trump said that the U.S. has been “ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy,” but said the “biggest problem” is China.

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,” he said. “Not going to happen. We got to get it back. Of course, 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.”

Facing backlash from foreign leaders around the world and lawmakers at home, Trump threatened over the weekend to place tariffs on European cars and suggested it was time for the U.S. to “change” its steel and aluminum industries.