President Donald Trump on Monday took a swat at Canada for not treating U.S. farmers better and Mexico for allowing too many drugs to flow across the border while also tying tariffs to a new NAFTA agreement.
The Trump administration says the tariffs are necessary to preserve the American industries — and that doing so is a national security imperative, which Trump underscored in another tweet later Monday morning.
The mini-rant comes amid Trump's decision last week to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Trump's tweets suggest he's using the upcoming tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest round of a nearly year-long renegotiation effort is concluding this week in Mexico City.
The tariffs will be made official in the next two weeks, White House officials said Monday, as the administration defended the protectionist decision from critics in Washington and overseas.
Speaking on "Fox & Friends," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: "25 percent on steel, and the 10 percent on aluminum, no country exclusions — firm line in the sand."
Trump's pronouncement last week that he would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets and rankled allies.
The across-the-board action breaks with the recommendation of the Pentagon, which pushed for more targeted tariffs on metals imports from countries like China and warned that a wide-ranging move would jeopardize national security partnerships. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversaw reviews of the industries that recommended the tariffs, said Sunday ABC's "This Week" that Trump is "talking about a fairly broad brush."
Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the sweeping action would let China "off the hook," adding the tariffs would drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies.
"China wins when we fight with Europe," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation." ''China wins when the American consumer has higher prices because of tariffs that don't affect Chinese behavior."
Trump has threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to the president's plan to increase duties on steel and aluminum.
British Prime Minister Theresa May raised her "deep concern" at the tariff announcement in a phone call with Trump Sunday. May's office says she noted that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity."
But Ross rejected threats of retaliation from American allies as "pretty trivial" and not much more than a "rounding error."
And Navarro argued Monday that "there are virtually no costs here."
"If you put a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, it's a cent and a half on a six pack of beer and it's $25,000 on a $330 million (Boeing 777)," Navarro said.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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