President Donald Trump proclaimed from the CPAC stage Saturday that tariffs are the “greatest” tool he’s employed in negotiating trade with foreign nations.
The president described how he has used tariffs to bring China to the negotiating table. China had raised their tariffs on U.S. car imports to 40 percent. Trump said the U.S. should have done the same thing to them, but previous leaders didn’t.
“I found some very old laws from when our country was rich, really rich. The old tariff laws, we had to dust them them off, you could hardly see they were so dusty, but fortunately they weren’t terminated,” he said.
“[President William] McKinley, prior to being president, he was very strong on protecting our assets, protecting our country,” Trump explained. “And he made statements that others cannot come in to our country and steal our wealth and steal our jobs and build their country and not defend our country. We can’t do that. We can’t ever allow that to happen.”
“Then in 1913 they ended tariffs,” said Trump. “Somebody got stupid and they ended tariffs.”
President Trump said he does not like or dislike tariffs, but rather, “The minimum, the greatest negotiating tool in the history of our country.”
“Do you think China would be sending their top representatives over?” Trump asked the crowd. “Right now China’s paying 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of technology goods. I was then going to charge them 25 percent on $200 billion.”
“We lose with everybody, almost, but China’s one country, $507 billion for many years,” said the president who then pointed to the billions of dollars streaming into the U.S. treasury since imposing the new tariffs on China. He added he retains the option to impose tariffs on another $250 billion.
“We’re renegotiating right now horrible trade deals,” said Trump. “We’re cracking down on countries that cheat and standing up for the American worker for the first time in many, many decades.”
He pointed to trade with India and the 100 percent tariff that country places on imports of U.S. motorcycles while U.S. charged no tariff on imports of Indian motorcycles. Under Trump the U.S. has changed that and started imposing tariffs on those motorcycles. Trump hailed reciprocal trade concluding that in many cases instead of having the 100 and 100 in reciprocal trade, you will have zero and zero.
“The world respects our country again,” said Trump. “America is now booming like never before. Other countries are doing very poorly … and that makes it even harder for us to be successful.”