Trump: US will be stronger on trade


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

President Donald Trump defended his tough trade negotiations with China, Canada and Mexico on Monday, saying the U.S. would soon be in a stronger position with its top trading partners. Trump faced pushback from U.S. allies and an influential Republican group, which warned that the tariffs would hinder the nation’s economy.

Trump wrote in a series of tweets that his trade negotiations with China and a slew of U.S. allies would break down large trade barriers faced by American farmers. He said that China “already charges a tax of 16% on soybeans. Canada has all sorts of trade barriers on our Agricultural products. Not acceptable!”

In a conference call later Monday with grass-roots supporters, he said, “We will be in a very strong position very soon. We don’t want to be taken advantage of anymore.”

The president last week imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from top U.S. trading partners, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. And he has threatened tariffs on up to $200 billion in Chinese imports, raising the potential for retaliation in a dispute involving the globe’s two largest economies.

Senate Republicans have warned that the tariffs could dampen the economic gains from the GOP tax cuts and sour the mood among voters as lawmakers campaign to protect the Republican majority in Congress in November midterm elections.

Many Farm Belt lawmakers worry that the trade disputes could make American farmers the target of retaliation. Mexico, for example, has said it will penalize U.S. imports including pork, apples, grapes and cheeses.

Groups backed by the influential Koch brothers’ network announced Monday they were launching a new multimillion-dollar campaign to oppose tariffs and highlight the benefits of free trade. The groups – Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and The LIBRE Initiative – called on Congress to exert oversight by requiring House and Senate votes on any new tariffs and urged the lifting of the recent steel and aluminum tariffs as well as those being proposed on goods from China.

Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, said the tariffs amounted to “self-imposed barriers” to the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that Trump signed into law in December.

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