Speaking at the White House Monday afternoon during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump said he isn't backing down on issuing tariffs for imported steel and aluminum.
"We're not backing down," Trump said, adding tariffs can be negotiated through changes in NAFTA. "We had a very bad deal with Mexico, we had a very bad deal with NAFTA."
"I don't think we'll have a trade war," he continued.
The President also tweeted about the issue Sunday evening and Monday morning.
We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the U.S. for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2018
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, Canada must..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2018
...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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2018
To protect our Country we must protect American Steel! #AMERICA FIRST— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2018
During a meeting with CEOs and business leaders from the steel and aluminum industries last week, Trump announced tariffs were imminent.
"We'll be signing it next week. And you'll have protection for a long time in a while. You'll have to regrow your industries, that's all I'm asking," Trump said. "It'll be for a long time."
Trump plans to sign a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 15 percent on aluminum. The move has been roundly condemned by Republicans on Capitol Hill, who argue tariffs will increase prices for everyday American consumers, wipe out economic returns from tax reform and start a trade war.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Speaker Paul Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong told Roll Call. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”
And it isn't just politicians expressing concern. Conservative, grassroots organizations are as well.
“The Trump administration would mar its otherwise strong economic record by imposing these tariffs. These could be a lethal blow to all the economic success this administration has ushered in. Higher costs to producers and distributors of goods always get passed on to us, the consumers" FreedomWorks Press Secretary Jon Meadows released in a statement last week.
President Trump has responded to criticism by arguing trade wars are good when there is an imbalance and that they are "easy to win."
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 2, 2018