President Donald Trump on Saturday called for the G-7 countries to wipe out all trade barriers among them, but vowed that until that happens, he will fight tooth and nail against any nation trying to take advantage of the U.S.
“We’re talking to all countries, and it’s going to stop, or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer if we have to do it,” Trump said, according to CNBC. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”
“We can’t have an example where we’re paying, the United States is paying, 270 percent — just can’t have it — and when they send things into us you don’t have that,” he said.
Trump noted that American farmers have been affected by past trade policies that make it hard for them to sell goods abroad, The New York Times reported.
“You look at our farmers. For 15 years, the graph has gone just like this, down,” he said.
“I blame our leaders. In fact, I congratulate the leaders of other countries for so crazily being able to make these trade deals that were so good for their country and so bad for the United States. But those days are over,” Trump said.
The president said he would prefer a world in which there were no trade barriers.
“No tariffs, no barriers. That’s the way it should be. And no subsidies. I even said, ‘No tariffs,’” Trump said, according to France 24.
He recently imposed stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. from European Union, Canada and Mexico. That followed a similar action in March applying to many other nations.
Trump has said that as long as he believes other nations are unfair to the United States, he will fight back with every tool at his disposal. That has caused friction between Trump and the other G-7 nations — France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany and Italy.
Trump downplayed those differences Saturday in a press conference that came at the conclusion of the G-7 summit.
“We had extremely productive discussions on the need to have fair and reciprocal” trade, he said.
“We want and expect other nations to provide fair market access to American exports and that we will take whatever steps are necessary to (protect) industry and workers from unfair practices, of which there are many. But we’re getting them worked out, slowly but surely.”
Trump said he would prefer a completely level playing field among all the G-7 partners.
“Ultimately that’s what you want, you want tariff free, no barriers, and you want no subsides because you have some countries subsidizing industries and that’s not fair,” Trump said, according to Business Insider. “So you go tariff free, you go barrier free, you go subsidy free, that’s the way you learned at the Wharton School of Finance.”
Trump left the G-7 summit ahead of everyone else due to his Tuesday summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. During his solo press conference, he alluded to media reports that his call for a no-tariff zone took other nations by surprise.
“People were … I guess they gotta go back to drawing board and check it out,” Trump said.
“I don’t know if they were surprised with President Trump’s free trade proclamation, but they certainly listened to it and we had lengthy discussions about that,” said Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser, who appeared with Trump. “As the president said, reduce these barriers, in fact go to zero, zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies, and along the way we’re going to have to clean up the international trading system.”