Washington, Apr 10 (PTI) President Donald Trump has blamed the “poor” American leadership of the past which “allowed” China to take advantage of the United States.
Updating his Cabinet colleagues on trade negotiations, Trump yesterday said the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) deal, currently being renegotiated with Canada and Mexico, was a horrible one.
“China has been taking advantage of the US for many years; really, if you look at it, since the start of the World Trade Organization. And they have really done a number on this country,” Trump said during the meeting at the White House.
“And I don’t blame China. I blame the people running our country. I blame presidents. I blame representatives. I blame negotiators. We should have been able to do what they did. We didn’t do it; they did. And it’s the most lopsided set of trade rules, regulations that anybody’s ever seen,” he said.
Despite the growing fears about a potential trade war between the US and China, triggered by Trump’s warning of tariffs on an additional USD 100 billion worth of Chinese imports, the US president claimed to be on good terms with Xi Jinping.
“I think we will maintain that relationship. I’m very good friends with President Xi. I have great respect for President Xi. And as you know, I spent two days in China, the president spent two days with us at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, and they were four great days,” he said.
Trump said the US was strongly renegotiating NAFTA and was close to a “right deal”.
“We will see what happens. But the US is strongly renegotiating NAFTA. We’re fairly close on NAFTA. And if we don’t make the right deal, we will terminate NAFTA, and we will make the right deal after that. But we have a chance to make a deal on NAFTA,” he said.
Trump said the US had similar “bad deals” with South Korea and the EU.
“If you look at the European Union, they have tremendous barriers — trade barriers. We essentially have bad deals with everyone,” he said.
“Were close to finishing a deal with South Korea, which was a horrible deal. It was going to give us 200,000 jobs. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. It gave them 200,000 jobs,” he said, adding that the US had made a “tremendous progress” in that respect.
Noting that the North Korea and South Korea situation complicated it, Trump said the deal that the US was going to have with South Korea was going to be “a very fair deal”.
“We want a fair deal, and we don’t have fair deals,” he said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters yesterday that Trump has worked with his team to determine how best to respond to China’s attack on American farmers.
“The president has asked the Department of Agriculture to protect farmers, and will present a plan on the specifics of that shortly,” said Sanders.
In an op-ed in Financial Times, Trump’s Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, Peter Navarro, said the Trump wanted a global trading system free of the imbalances and unfair practices that now hold growth back, not just in the US but around the world.
Navarro said Trump had given China “every opportunity” to end its unfair trade practices, “which” has only grown”.
The US trade deficit in goods with China has grew from USD 347 billion in 2016 to USD 375 billion.
While the trade deficit balloons, China continues to steal US intellectual property and force American companies operating there to surrender their leading edge technologies in exchange for access to the Chinese market,” Navarro said.
Navarro alleged that China’s reaction to Trump’s “legitimate” defence of the American homeland had been “a Great Wall of denial” despite incontrovertible evidence of Beijing’s “illicit and protectionist” behaviour.
“Instead, China is attacking American farmers with the threat of retaliatory tariffs in the apparent hope of rattling a key component of the coalition that put Mr Trump in office,” said Navarro.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.