US President Donald Trump vowed Monday he will not back down on imposing steep tariffs on steel and aluminium on Canada and Mexico unless he gets a “fair” deal to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He also criticized the European Union for the trade barriers on US companies and repeated his threat to slap tariffs on European car imports if Brussels retaliates against the steel tariffs.
Speaking as US, Mexican and Canadian trade officials were gathered in Mexico City for the final day of the seventh round of talks aimed at modernizing and modifying NAFTA, Trump doubled down on the threat he made on Twitter early Monday.
“No, we’re not backing down,” Trump told reporters following his Oval Office meeting with embattled Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu. “There will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico.”
But the US leader who prides himself on his ability to negotiate business deals, and last week said trade wars were “good, and easy to win,” said the tariffs could depend on the outcome of the NAFTA talks. Those negotiations that already had hit serious roadblocks over US demands.
Trump’s surprise announcement last week that he plans to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminium, sparked a fierce global response, including from NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico.
Trade experts and officials in Ottawa and Mexico City raised the possibility the neighbouring nations could be exempt from new measures, but the president rejected that possibility and raised the stakes by holding the NAFTA talks hostage to the tariffs.
“We have had a bad deal with Mexico. Very bad deal with Canada,” Trump said. “Our factories have left our country, our jobs have left our country. For many years, NAFTA has been a disaster.”
And without a deal “that’s fair to the workers and the American people,” he will terminate NAFTA, he said.
“Tariffs on Steel and Aluminium will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” Trump said in one of a series of morning tweets.