Washington: President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that the US which has nearly USD 800 billion deficit with other countries is ready for a trade war with them, if they retaliated against his decision to impose 25 percent import tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
"We will have to see," Trump told reporters at a White House news conference when asked how he would avoid escalating into a trade war as other countries are saying that they would retaliate against his steel and aluminium tariff.
"You know, when we're behind on every single country, trade wars aren't so bad. Do you understand what I mean by that? When we're down by USD 30 billion, USD 40 billion, USD 60 billion, USD 100 billion, the trade war hurts them. Doesn't hurt us."
"So we'll see what happens," Trump said indicating that the US is ready for a trade war and is confident of winning it.
"You know, you can also take it. In some cases, we lose on trade, plus, we give them military, where we're subsidising them tremendously. So not only do we lose on trade, we lose on military. We have these massive deficit numbers in our country. We're going to straighten it out, and we'll do it in a very loving way. It'll be a loving, loving way. They'll like us better, and they will respect us much more," he said.
"Because even they say, right now, they say, "We can't believe we've gotten away. I mean, two countries have said, "We cannot believe, to be honest with you, we've gotten away with this so long. Now, one of them made that statement before I got elected," he said.
"I can't believe I made that statement," before I got elected. But it's one of those things. We have to straighten it out. We really have no choice," Trump said in response to a question.
Trump defended his decision not to have a country specific exemption on his steel and aluminium tariff.
China, contrary to media reports, sends more than two percent of the steel to the US, he said.
"I've watched where the reporters have been writing 2 percent of our steel comes from China. Well, that's not right. They transship all through other countries and you'll see that a country that doesn't even have a steel mill is sending us 3 percent steel, for our country," he said.
"Many countries are doing it. But it comes from China. So China doesn't send us two percent; they send us a much, much higher level than that, but it's called transshipping. So it doesn't look good when it all comes out of China, so they send it through other countries and it comes to us," he said.
This is putting American steel mills out of business.
"Our aluminium mills are going out of business. We need steel and we need aluminium. There's a theory that if a country doesn't have steel, it doesn't have a country. It's true. So this is more than just pure economics. This is about defense. This is about the country itself," he said.
Trump said his statements on this is not new.
"We lose USD 800 billion a year in trade. I think I was elected, at least partially on this issue. I've been saying it for 25 years; our country's been taken advantage of by everybody, almost everybody. We cannot let that happen any longer -- not for our companies and not, most importantly, for our workers. So we're not going to let it happen, he asserted.