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In tough talk on trade, Trump says U.S. won't be world's 'piggy bank' anymore

  • June 09, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump told global leaders gathered at the Group of Seven summit in Quebec that they must reduce trade barriers and floated the idea of lowering tariffs completely if other countries agreed to a more pure form of open trade.

Trump threatened to stop trading with other nations if they decline to lower barriers he has repeatedly described as unfair, and he warned allies against taking retaliatory measures against steep metal tariffs that he imposed last month.

“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing,” Trump said. “And that ends.”

Ending trade with other nations under the current system, Trump said, would be “a very profitable answer if I have to do it.”

The remarks, following a two-day meeting in Canada with the world’s largest industrialized economies, were among the most strident Trump has used to describe what he sees as an out-of-whack global trade system that he says harms U.S. industries.

Speaking to reporters before leaving for his meeting in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump tried to downplay any notion that the meeting in Canada was contentious.

He repeatedly described his relationship with the other leaders at the summit as “a 10” and said he did not blame the other countries for their positions on trade.

Later in the day Trump tweeted: “Just left the @G7 Summit in beautiful Canada. Great meetings and relationships with the six Country Leaders especially since they know I cannot allow them to apply large Tariffs and strong barriers to … … U.S.A. Trade. They fully understand where I am coming from. After many decades, fair and reciprocal Trade will happen!”

“The United States will not allow other countries to impose massive Tariffs and Trade Barriers on its farmers, workers and companies. While sending their product into our country tax free. We have put up with Trade Abuse for many decades — and that is long enough,” he continued. 

More: Top economic aide Larry Kudlow: ‘Don’t blame Trump’ for trade tensions

Trump drew international criticism last month for leveling a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% duty on aluminum, measures the president says are necessary for national security. The president has also said he is considering a tariff on imported cars.

The president said the ideal situation would be a completely free trade system with the other G-7 nations — Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada. Under such an arrangement, he said, the U.S. would agree to remove all tariffs and barriers if the other countries did as well.

Trump did not indicate that he had received any concessions in his negotiations on trade at the summit. Several other leaders have threatened retaliatory tariffs. 

“If they retaliate,” Trump said, “they’re making a mistake.”

The other leaders at the summit didn’t address Trump’s remarks directly, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron both posted photos that showed an alternate perspective — though Macron’s tweet had a hopeful tone. 

“Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions. #G7Charlevoix,” Merkel posted on Instagram with a photograph of her and Macron staring down Trump, who sat with his arms crossed as others looked on. 

Zweiter Tag des G7-Gipfels in Kanada: spontane Beratung am Rande der offiziellen Tagesordnung. — Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions. #G7Charlevoix

A post shared by Angela Merkel (@bundeskanzlerin) on Jun 9, 2018 at 8:53am PDT

Macron posted a photo of leaders and aides surrounding Trump, who is one of two people sitting, as Macron gestures at him. 

“#G7Charlevoix, second day: A new step has been taken. After a long day of work and very direct dialogue, we are actively seeking an ambitious agreement,” an English translation of Macron’s tweet says.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican who has been critical of the president, said if Trump “is actually serious about leading the expansion of a G-7 no-tariff, free-trade agreement, that’s tremendous, tremendous news. … I would happily carry his bag to every single meeting of those negotiations.”

But, Sasse cautioned, “the path to more trade begins with less whining on the global stage. … The constant victim-talk doesn’t help anyone.”

Contributing: Eliza Collins

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Journalists are stationed at the Quebec City Convention Center on the eve of the G7 summit, June 7, 2018 in Quebec City, Quebec. Leaders of the world’s seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, will be attending the annual meeting.  
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People on street look at the policemen before the start of the G7 Summit in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada on June 7, 2018. Leaders of the US, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom as well as the European Union will gather in Le Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie for the two day summit on June 8 and 9.  
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