Trump on Trade and Tariffs: ‘We’re Holding All the Cards’

President Donald Trump calls out to the cheering crowd as he leaves a rally at the Four Seasons Arena at Montana ExpoPark, Thursday, July 5, 2018, in Great Falls, Mont.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Donald Trump emphasized the importance of having support in negotiations – not “little ones sniping at your heels”– explaining that tariffs on countries that already levy tariffs on the U.S. will help the U.S. “make great deals.”

At one point in the speech, Trump countered claims that the U.S. would lose in a trade war, saying instead that the “war on trade was lost many years ago.”

“We are bringing back our wealth from foreign countries that have been ripping us off for years,” Trump said on trade policy. “We are bringing back our wealth from foreign countries.” “For too long we watched and we waited and we saw as other countries stole our jobs, cheated our workers, and gutted our industry. You go up to New England and you still see the remnants where they moved down to Mexico under NAFTA.” He called NAFTA one of the worst deals, said they are renegotiating it, and that he has a “feeling they’ll come along. We’ll see. And if they don’t we’ll actually do better.”

“The United States of America was the piggy bank that everybody else was robbing,” said Trump. “Our allies in many cases were worse than our enemies. We opened our country to their goods, but they put up massive barriers to keep our products and our goods the hell out of their country because they didn’t want that competition.”

“That’s not free trade, that’s stupid trade,” said Trump. “We don’t do that anymore. We have to have fair and reciprocal, that being the more important word, we need reciprocal. They charge a fifty percent tax, we charge a fifty percent tax. Then we say look, let’s bring it to nothing or I don’t care one way or the other, do whatever you want.”

Trump said he decided to put tariffs on countries that had been ripping the U.S. off for years, producing trade deficits for the U.S. and surpluses for America’s trading partners. He was met with calls from some politicians calling the new U.S. tariffs terrible.

The president described conversations where he would try to explain that the tariffs were part of his plan to “make great deals” and was still met with pleas to leave things the way they are.

“I say, no, no, we’ve got all the cards,” said Trump. “We’re the bank that everybody’s stealing from.” He mentioned the U.S. tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods and more on potentially another $200 billion in Chinese goods. 

“Because China, and I have great respect for President Xi [Jinping], and for China … but they’ve been killing us. $507 billion dollars in trade deficits last year,” said Trump.

“The war on trade was lost many years ago,” argued Trump. “But now, we’re gonna win it because we have all the cards. But it’s always helpful when you don’t have the little ones sniping at your heels. Because it’s easier to negotiate when you have support.”

“We are in such a great position,” said Trump. “Other countries are calling us.”

He said that if the U.S. knocks down the trade deficit by just 25 percent, the U.S. picks up one point in GDP. “That’s three trillion dollars and that’s ten million jobs.” He recalled his predictions of increases in the GDP and now a current prediction by the Atlanta Fed that GDP could go to 4.8 percent. “Who knows,” he said, proclaiming that he does know it will be a lot better than it was under President Barack Obama.

“Now we’ve got something that’s a rocket ship,” said Trump who said that the economy was ready to tank if Democrats had been elected over him.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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