Trump accuses Canada of ‘bragging’ over link with US

Comments come after Trump instructed aides not to sign the final G7 communique

US president Donald Trump meets  Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau  during the G7 summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, last week. Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters

US president Donald Trump meets Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau during the G7 summit in the Charlevoix town of La Malbaie, Quebec, last week. Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump doubled-down on Monday on his attacks on Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau, accusing Canada of “bragging” about its trade relationship with the United States.

In a series of tweets from Singapore, Mr Trump said “Fair Trade” should now be called “Fool Trade if it is not reciprocal”, adding that Canada had been bragging about making $100 billion in trade with the US and “got caught”.

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” he tweeted. “Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit.”

While Canada runs a trade surplus in goods with the United States, it in fact runs a trade deficit with the United States when goods and services are combined.

Mr Trump’s comments came a day after he described the Canadian prime minister as “dishonest and weak” and instructed his aides not to sign the final communique from the G7 summit hosted by Mr Trudeau in Quebec.

Several White House aides aggressively backed the president in a series of interviews

The US president launched the Twitter tirade from Air Force One on his way to Singapore for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after he watched the Canadian prime minister’s final G7 press conference.

New low

The intervention marked a new low between the United States and its allies. But as Mr Trump landed in Singapore, several White House aides aggressively backed the president in a series of interviews.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” trade adviser to the president Peter Navarro said on Fox News.

“And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference,” he added. “That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.”

Mr Trump’s attack on the Canadian prime minister – unprecedented by the leader of the United States – was met with anger and dismay in Canada, with many of Mr Trudeau’s political foes stepping in to defend him. “We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the prime minister and the people of Canada, ” said Doug Ford, the recently-elected premier of Ontario.

This was a difficult summit with, at times, some very candid discussions

Former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper told Fox News that the US president had made a mistake in targeting Canada. “I can understand why President Trump, why the American people feel they need some better trade relationships,” he said. But, he added, “this is the wrong target”.

‘Sobering’

As German chancellor Angela Merkel described Mr Trump’s behaviour as “sobering and slightly depressing”, British prime minister Theresa May said the G7 meeting in Quebec had been “difficult”.

“This was a difficult summit with, at times, some very candid discussions,” she told the House of Commons. Pointing out that leaders had raised the United States’s recent tariffs on steel and aluminium imports with Mr Trump, she said that multilateral action was the right way to address the problems caused by globalisation. “It cannot be done by taking unilateral action against your partners,” she said.

But US secretary of state Mike Pompeo played down the rift between the US president and America’s long-time allies, which overshadowed the two-day summit in Canada.

“There are always irritants in relationships,” Mr Pompeo told reporters in Singapore.

“I’m very confident the relationships between our countries, the United States and those G7 countries, will continue to move forward on a strong basis. I’m unconcerned about our capacity to continue to do what we need to do.”