President Trump already said that there could be no exemptions to his steel and aluminum import tariffs, lest every country in the world come crawling after the exemption – but he said this week there might be a way for Canada and Mexico to get a special deal.
“Tariffs on steel and aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A. Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.
“Also,” he continued, “Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying.”
Trump’s negotiation olive branch to Canada comes after he proposed last week to institute new tariffs on incoming steel and aluminum in an overture to help protect American jobs. The president said he was looking at taxes of 25% on steel and 10% on imported aluminum.
The news garnered immediate criticism from allies and trade partners, some of whom saw this as the opening salvo in an international trade war. Many lawmakers in Trump’s own party balked at the news, seeing as how free trade has always been a primary plank of the Republican platform. The idea of a trade war put some fear into Wall Street as well; the Dow dipped 600 points in the hours after the announcement and leaders from across the manufacturing sector denounced the move.
Of course, one wonders: Was anyone actually paying attention when this guy was running for president?
Trump said all along that he was fed up with the United States getting a raw deal on trade, and he vowed to rip NAFTA and the TPP to shreds. He’s already taken care of TPP, and it seems his focus is now on the North American agreement. Trump’s is a brand of economic nationalism this country hasn’t seen in a long time…but it is certainly not a surprise! This is what he ran on. This is what he said at every rally for a year and a half. And yet you have these Republicans running around like this is something out of East Nowhere.
Then again, presidents and politicians have been running on “change” for as long as any of us have been alive. Maybe Washington and the rest of the world can be forgiven as they realize that Trump actually meant it.