"No, we're not backing down," Trump told reporters at the White House, claiming the US “has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy”, presstv reported.
Asked if the move could trigger a global trade war, Trump said “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”
On Monday morning Trump also tweeted about tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from America’s neighbors Mexico and Canada, which along with the US, are signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as NAFTA.
"We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for USA Massive relocation of companies & jobs. Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed,” the President stated.
Trump said he is imposing a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports and that no country, including allies such as Britain and EU members, will be excluded from the tariffs.
Trump’s restrictions on imports, and what has been seen by traditional Republicans as an attack on “free markets”, is facing mounting pressure from Trump’s own party and also from ally countries around the world.
In a rare move, House Speaker Paul Ryan personally spoke with the President and also publicly criticized Trump’s decision to impose tariffs against imported steel and aluminum.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” Ryan Spokeswoman AshLee Strong said, adding that “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains.”
Republicans, and some Democrats, argue that tariffs could drive up the price of consumer goods and hurt US industries that use steel to produce their products.
Republicans were not the only ones to rebuke Trump’s recent decision. Many country’s have also threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on American production that could make them less competitive in overseas markets, thus actually undermining Trump’s claim that the tariffs are intended to boost American production.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the European Union must take urgent action at the World Trade Organization if the tariffs on steel and aluminum go ahead.
“It is important in this context that the European Union reacts swiftly and proportionately within the WTO and in respect of the WTO,” Macron told journalists.
Macron added that Trump’s proposed measures amount to “economic nationalism” and nationalism was a war in which all sides lose.
German government Spokesman Steffen Seibert also said a hike in US import duties for European-made products will affect international trade flows and European industries as well as workers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.
He stressed that Germany will consult with its European partners about the next steps.
British Prime Minister Theresa May also called Trump on Sunday to convince him to reconsider his tariff plans. Trump replied in a tweet rejecting such calls.
Trump’s reference to “friends” in his new post most likely includes the UK, which heavily relies on a future trade deal with the US after leaving the European Union (EU).
Trump, who is accused of protectionism, has promised May a “major trade deal” that, ironically, would save London from the EU’s “very protectionist” policies.
Donald Trump indicated the tariffs are not exclusive to steel and aluminum and that other goods such as European car manufacturers should pay higher tariffs on cars they export to the US.
“If the EU wants to further increase their already massive tariffs and barriers on US companies doing business there, we will simply apply a Tax on their Cars which freely pour into the US. They make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!,” Trump tweeted.
Trump also lashed out at “very stupid” trade deals by earlier administrations and said other countries “laugh at what fools our leaders have been. No more!”
Trump has previously attacked car manufacturers in Europe, especially in Germany, which the US has a huge trade deficit.
Last year, in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, he criticized companies such as BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen for failing to produce more cars on US soil and threatened a border tax of 35% on vehicles imported to the US market.
A few months later, at a closed-door meeting with EU officials in Brussels, he was quoted by Der Spiegel as saying “The Germans are bad, very bad. Look at the millions of cars that they sell in the US. Terrible. We’re going to stop that.”