US President Donald Trump denied "backing down" on his decision to impose a 25 per cent import duty on steel and another 10 per cent on aluminum.
"No, we're not backing down," Trump said when asked about his tweet earlier in the morning in which he said tariffs on steel and aluminium will only be halted if a "new and fair" North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed.
"We had a very bad deal with Mexico, we had a very bad deal with NAFTA," Trump said at a joint media conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Oval Office.
Currently, the US, Canada and Mexico are renegotiating NAFTA. On imposing the tariffs, the president said, "Right now, 100 per cent, but it could be a part of NAFTA".
Trump said the US had been "ripped off" by other countries on trade. "We lost USD 800 billion on trade. We're going to take care of it," he said.
This week, Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order that would impose a 25 per cent tariff on import of steel and another 10 per cent on aluminium. His announcements last week drew a sharp reaction from America's major trading partners including the European Union and Canada.
The new import duty is said to be aimed at Chinese steel, which is quite often dumped in the US market. "We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada. NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for USA.
Massive relocation of companies and jobs. Tariffs on steel and aluminium will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed," Trump had tweeted.
Currently, the US, Canada and Mexico are renegotiating NAFTA. In another tweet, Trump said Canada must treat American farmers much better.
"Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the US. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying," Trump wrote.