A day after stunning markets, Republican lawmakers and even his own advisers by announcing stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, President Trump doubled down on his approach on Friday, saying in an early morning tweet that “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
Mr. Trump appeared eager to defend his decision to levy sweeping tariffs on all imports of those metals, issuing a series of morning tweets explaining the need for tariffs. “Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!” he said in one tweet.
Markets fell in response to Mr. Trump’s announcement on Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, effectively placing a tax on every foreign shipment of those metals into the United States. Mr. Trump, at a hastily arranged meeting with industry executives on Thursday, said he would formally sign the trade measures next week and promised they would be in effect “for a long period of time.”
On Friday, he wrote that the measures would help to reduce the trade deficit, which is the gap between what the United States exports to other countries and what it imports. Mr. Trump has long lambasted the trade deficit as a sign of United States weakness.
“When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice,” he wrote.
Steel and aluminum companies and their workers greeted the measure as a much-needed salve for their industries. But the doubling down is only likely to further inflame tensions with other nations, which are already indicating they may take reciprocal measures and place taxes on United States exports.
The European Union, Germany, Canada and other nations have threatened retaliation, and denunciations flowed in on Friday from governments, lawmakers, metals makers and labor unions.
Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Friday that the government “rejects” the tariffs, adding that such measures could lead to a global trade war, which “can’t be in anyone’s interest.”