The president answered a question about his newly proposed tariff on steel and aluminum at a press conference with the Swedish PM on Tuesday. President Trump disputed widespread reports originating with a Department of Commerce document saying that only 2% of U.S. steel imports come from China are not true because of "trans-shipping." He explained that means "it doesn't look good when it all comes out of China, so they send it through other countries and then it comes to us."
The president explained: "So China doesn't send us 2%. They send us a much, much higher level than that. But it is called trans-shipping."
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Just to add maybe a little bit further, if you talk China, I have watched where the reporters have been writing 2% of our steel comes from China. Well, that's not right. They trans-ship all through other countries. And you'll see that a country that doesn't even have a steel mill is sending us 3% steel for our country. And many countries are doing it. But it comes from China.
So China doesn't send us 2%. They send us a much, much higher level than that. But it is called trans-shipping.
It doesn't look good when it all comes out of China, so they send it through other countries and it comes to us. It puts our steel mills out of business. Our aluminum mills are going out of business. And we need steel and we need aluminum.
And you know there is a theory that if a country doesn't have steel, it doesn't have a country. And it's true.
So this is more than just pure economics. This is about defense. About the country itself.
Again, remember this, we lose $8 will 00 00 billion year in trade. I think I was elected at least partially on this issue. I've been saying this for 25 years, our country has been taken advantage by everybody. Everybody. Almost everybody. And 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. Please.
Trump addressed the same issue in detail a another point in the presser:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well the United States has been taken advantage of by other countries, both friendly and not so friendly for many, many decades. And we have a trade deficit of $800 billion a year. And that's not going to happen with me.
We have been mistreated by many, sometimes fairly but there are really very few instances where that's taken place. And I don't blame the countries. I blame our leadership for allowing it to happen.
When I was with President Xi in China, as an example, we lose $500 billion a year on trade. We have a deficit of approximately $500 billion a year with China, and we're doing things with China which are very strong, but they understand it. But I was with him, and I said to him in public, I said, "Look, I'm not blaming you. I blame our people for not doing a better job; for allowing this to happen."
But it's like that with many countries, other than smaller. The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States. They make it almost impossible for us to do business with them, and yet, they send their cars and everything else back into the United States. And they can do whatever they'd like, but if they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars, and believe me, they won't be doing it very long. The European Union has not treated us well, and it's been a very, very unfair trade situation. I'm here to protect, and one of the reasons I was elected is I'm protecting our workers, I'm protecting our companies, and I'm not going to let that happen.
So we're doing tariffs on steel. We cannot lose our steel industry. It's a fraction of what it once was. And we can't lose our aluminum industry; also a fraction of what it once was. And our country is doing well. The massive tax cuts, and all of the deregulation has really kicked us into gear.
But I have to work on trade deals. We're working on NAFTA right now, and if we're able to make a deal with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, then there will be no reason to do the tariffs with Canada and Mexico. But again, other countries, we won't have that choice, and -- unless they can do something for us. As an example, if the European Union takes off some of the horrible barriers that make it impossible for our product to go into there, then we can start talking. Otherwise, we're going to leave it the way it is.
So the fact is, we've been mistreated as a country for many years, and it's just not going to happen any longer.