March 15, 2018

No, Trump, We Do Not Have a Trade Deficit with Canada

President Donald Trump bids farewell to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Feb. 13, 2017, at the South Portico of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House/Flickr)

President brags about making stuff up to foreign leaders when facts are clear that he’s wrong.

Jessica Corbett / 03.15.2018

After the Washington Post obtained a recording in which President Donald Trump bragged to donors about making up trade facts during a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Americans expressed concerns about Trump’s demonstrated tendency to lie alongside worries about how he will handle less friendly heads of state, such as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he is set to meet with sometime in May.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday evening that the president insisted the United States has a trade deficit with Canada, despite not knowing either way. According to the newspaper, during a private fundraising speech, the president said:

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.” …Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in—”Donald, we have no trade deficit.” He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed. …So, he’s proud. I said, “Wrong, Justin, you do.” I didn’t even know. …I had no idea. I just said, “You’re wrong.” You know why? Because we’re so stupid. …And I thought they were smart. I said, “You’re wrong, Justin.” He said, “Nope, we have no trade deficit.” I said, “Well, in that case, I feel differently,” I said, “but I don’t believe it.” I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, “Check, because I can’t believe it.” …”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.

As the Post noted, the Office of the United States Trade Representative says, according to the most recent data available: “U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totaled an estimated $627.8 billion in 2016. Exports were $320.1 billion; imports were $307.6 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016.”

In a series of tweets, Toronto Star Washington correspondent Daniel Dale broke down the president’s “hugely ridiculous” tale—noting that “there is an entire genre of invented Trump story that involves him being proven right about something by an unnamed individual. In this case, it’s the aide.”

Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to stand by his initial claims:

Some users quickly responded with screenshots of the U.S. Trade Representative’s webpage for the nation’s trade with Canada:

Originally published by Common Dreams under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.