WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump maintained his combative stance on trade on Friday, issuing threats against China, Japan and Canada.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said that the imposition of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods “could take place very soon depending on what happens with them.”
“I hate to say this, but behind that is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That totally changes the equation,” the president said.
Accord to official US government figures, if all those tariffs were to be imposed, they would surpass the total value of Chinese goods imported by the United States.
In 2017, the United States imported $505 billion in Chinese products.
“I’m being strong on China because I have to be. They’re taking $500 billion out a year. I can’t let that happen,” Trump said.
China’s trade ministry, for its part, said Thursday that it would “take the necessary countermeasures” if the US decides to impose new tariffs.
The president also put Japan on notice.
“If we don’t make a deal, Japan knows it’s a big problem,” Trump told reporters travelling with him to Fargo, North Dakota.
The president said that Japan had contacted the US government last week about initiating trade talks.
Trump has claimed to have a good relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with whom he has meet on several occasions and has invited to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Regarding Canada, currently in talks with Washington about overhauling the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump threatened to impose tariffs on Canadian auto imports.
“I don’t want to do anything bad to Canada. I can – all I have to do is tax their cars, it would be devastating,” Trump said.
The president said he was often accused of being “too tough on Canada,” tough he defended his stance, saying Ottawa “has been ripping us off for a long time.”
“Now they’ve got to treat us fairly,” Trump added.