WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened the European Union with increased taxes on automobile imports while slamming the “very stupid trade deals and policies” struck by his predecessors, as his administration continues to defend his decision this week to impose unilateral tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
“The United States has an $800 Billion Dollar Yearly Trade Deficit because of our “very stupid” trade deals and policies,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!”
He added: “If the E.U. wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on U.S. companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the U.S,” Trump added. “They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!”
According to the Census Bureau’s data, the U.S. total trade deficit in goods and services was just over $556 billion last year. But based solely on goods, the deficit was over $810 billion last year.
On Thursday, Trump announced plans to levy a 25 percent tax on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports to protect U.S. national security interests. His decision caused a drop in stock markets and was criticized by many Republican lawmakers.
Many countries, including U.S. allies like Canada, said they opposed the proposal. In its response, the European Union said it would consider imposing retaliatory tariffs on politically sensitive products from Republican-run states, including motorcycles, clothing and alcohol.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Friday defended the proposed steel tariffs as “no big deal” to U.S. car buyers.
“People talk about cars. There’s about one ton of steel in a car, and the price of a ton of steel is $700 or so,” Ross said on CNBC. “So 25 percent on that would be [a] one half of 1 percent price increase, on a typical $35,000 car,” he said. “So it’s no big deal.”
As president-elect, Trump threatened German car makers with a 35 percent tax for “every car that comes to the USA.”
As a presidential candidate, Trump broke with decades of Republican orthodoxy on trade as he lambasted deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership as fundamentally unfair to the U.S.
Doug Palmer contributed to this report.