A little lying to America’s neighbor to the north is par for the course of running a country, Trump appears to think. According to the Washington Post, during a private fundraising speech March 14 Trump boasted about lying to Canada’s Justin Trudeau about America’s trade deficit with the country.
Trump insisted that the US had a trade deficit with Canada—without knowing whether that was actually true. Trudeau—who actually knew the state of trade deficit between the two countries—tried to correct Trump in the most polite, gentle way.
“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please’,” Trump said, reportedly mimicking Trudeau. ”Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in—‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’”
Trump didn’t acknowledge his ignorance, despite by his own admission, having “no idea” whether or not the U.S. does have a trade deficit with the country.
“I just said, ‘You’re wrong,’ ” Trump said in his fundraising speech, which was held in Missouri. After getting the information checked during the meeting, Trump conceded that Trudeau was correct, at least according to some measures: “‘Well, sir, you’re actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn’t include energy and timber. … And when you do, we lose $17 billion a year.’ It’s incredible.”
Earlier today, Trump contended that the US does have a trade deficit with Canada, adding to the confusion:
To be fair, the evaluation of trade deficits can be complicated. There is no uniformity in the way different countries measure deficit and surplus. For instance, depending on which country’s metrics are used, Canada can have both a surplus and a deficit. Further, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative’s website, in 2016, the US had a goods trade deficit with Canada of $12.1 billion and a services trade surplus of $24.6 billion, for an overall surplus of $12.5 billion. US trade deficits are generally driven by goods, not services.
The rest of Trump’s Missouri fundraising speech is a treasure trove of quotes that may shed light on future developments in the era of Trump:
On meeting with North Korea:
“Nobody would have done what I did.”
[Mocking other presidents]: “It’s called appeasement: Please don’t do anything,”
[Mocking the press]: “He’s got very little knowledge of the Korean Peninsula. Maybe he’s not the one. … Maybe we should send in the people that have been playing games and didn’t know what the hell they’ve been doing for 25 years.”
On Japan’s protectionism:
Trump talked about some kind of (unknown, and unconfirmed) test made on imported cars: “It’s the bowling ball test. They take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air and drop it on the hood of the car,” Trump said of Japan. “If the hood dents, the car doesn’t qualify. It’s horrible,” he said.
“The best deal is to terminate it and make a new deal”
On the press:
Trump mocked concerns about escalating tensions with North Korea. [Mockingly]: “He’s going to get us in a war.” […] “You know what’s going to get us in a war? Weakness.”
On tax reform:
“Do me a favor: Don’t call it tax reform. It hasn’t worked in 45 years. You say you’re reforming taxes, that means taxes could go up. […] I actually said, ‘Let’s call it the Tax Cut Cut Cut plan,’ I actually did. They thought it sounded a little hokey and called it something else. I liked the first one better.”