WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump on Friday insisted â€śtrade wars are good, and easy to win,â€ť a bold claim that prompted threats of retaliation against U.S. exports like blue jeans and motorcycles.
â€śMake no mistake: If the president goes through with this, it will kill American jobs - thatâ€™s what every trade war ultimately does,â€ť said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican.
Trump has declared that the U.S. will impose punishing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The move will likely raise steel and aluminum prices here. Thatâ€™s good for U.S. manufacturers. But itâ€™s bad for companies that use the metals, and it prompted red flags from industries ranging from tool and dye makers to beer distributors to manufacturers of air conditioners. The American International Automobile Dealers Association warned it would drive prices up â€śsubstantially.â€ť
Markets tumbled in Asia, where China had already expressed a â€śgrave concernâ€ť about U.S. trade policy. And the European Union promised retaliation against American exports if Trump follows through. In the United States, the S&P 500 dropped as much as 1.1 percent before paring its decline.
â€śNone of this is reasonable, but reason is a sentiment thatâ€™s very unevenly distributed in the world,â€ť said Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EUâ€™s executive body.
Asked if a trade war is brewing, he said: â€śI canâ€™t see how this isnâ€™t part of war-like behavior.â€ť
Early Friday, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself: â€śWhen a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, donâ€™t trade anymore-we win big. Itâ€™s easy!â€ť
He later tweeted: â€śOur steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DONâ€™T HAVE STEEL, YOU DONâ€™T HAVE A COUNTRY!â€ť
Sen. Sasse echoed a sentiment of many U.S. lawmakers when he issued a statement in response: â€śKooky 18th century protectionism will jack up prices on American families.â€ť