I love Canada,’ Trump says after lashing back at Canada over Trudeau’s tariff criticism


WASHINGTON—After lashing back at Canada in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s criticism of his new tariffs, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that he loves Canada — but also floated the idea of killing the North American Free Trade Agreement that Canada supports and instead creating separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico.
Canada and Mexico both want to stay in the three-country NAFTA that has existed since 1994. Trump’s Friday comments come nine months into the negotiations, which he initiated, that are intended to make changes to that three-country pact.“To be honest with you … I wouldn’t mind seeing NAFTA where you’d go by a different name, where you make a separate deal with Canada and a separate deal with Mexico. Because you’re talking about a very different two countries,” Trump said outside the White House.
Canada and the U.S. had their own two-country trade agreement from 1989 until the three-country NAFTA replaced it in 1994.
Trump has been criticized by Canadian and Mexican leaders and numerous members of his own party for hitting such close allies with steel and aluminum tariffs. Trump responded: “They’re our allies, but they take advantage of us economically.”
“I love Canada. I love Mexico. I love ’em. But Mexico’s making over $100 billion a year and they’re not helping us with our border,” Trump said, falsely describing a trade deficit that was $69 billion (U.S.) last year and has never been $100 billion.
Trump’s latest remarks cast further doubt on his commitment to an agreement he described again as “a terrible deal for the United States.” Negotiations have stalled amid several serious disagreements.
Negotiators, however, have shrugged off previous musings from the president in the past and continued with the three-country negotiations. Canada has not ruled out the idea of a two-country agreement without Mexico.
Trump criticized Canada on three separate occasions on Thursday and Friday after Trudeau delivered an unusually pointed rebuke of Trump’s tariffs and vowed to retaliate with Canadian tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products.
In a rare nighttime statement on Thursday, Trump called out Trudeau by name: “The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade. Those days are over. Earlier today, this message was conveyed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada: The United State (sic) will agree to a fair deal, or there will be no deal at all.”In a tweet Friday morning, Trump returned to his familiar complaints about Canadian agriculture.
“Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade!” he wrote. “They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?”
U.S. data has consistently shown that the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada. Canadian data, calculated differently, has shown that Canada has the surplus. Regardless, economic analysts agree that the relationship is largely balanced and that the existence of a surplus or a deficit is not a good way to measure the quality of a trade relationship.
Trump has periodically complained about Canadian agriculture policy, particularly with regard to milk. His administration is demanding changes to Canada’s supply management system as part of the NAFTA talks.
In his Friday remarks outside the White House, Trump falsely claimed: “Canada doesn’t take — I mean, they’re very restrictive as to taking our agricultural product and other things.” Trump’s Agriculture Department reported in March that Canada bought more U.S. agricultural products in 2017 — $20.5 billion (U.S) worth — than any other country.
Trudeau had long attempted to maintain a positive posture toward the impulsive president, responding only indirectly to Trump’s jabs at Canada. The prime minister’s remarks on Thursday represented his sharpest criticism to date.

By DANIEL DALEWashington Bureau Chief

Mangat Media

Rajbir Mangat

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