Accuracy in Media

Time reported that President Trump was wrong to point out the disparity between tariffs between the United States and Canada in the failed G-7 summit in Quebec.

On the way to his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump accused Canada of “charging massive tariffs” to U.S. businesses, focusing on Canada’s 270 percent tariff on dairy products made in the United States.

It was part of Trump’s campaign to put American workers first — he claims workers have taken a back seat to desires for international agreements that may make leaders look statesmanlike but do not help ordinary people in their countries.

In this case, Trump offered a nod to the dairy farmers that operate in states including Wisconsin, New York and Minnesota, who easily could sell products into Canada with a more balanced approach.

But this is not what Trump should take away from that figure, according to the Time piece Sunday, headlined, “President Trump Complained About U.S. Trade War With Canada. Here’s What he Got Wrong.”

“Trump’s stinging critique – while technically accurate – obscures the larger trade relationship between the two countries,” wrote Time’s Justin Worland. “Canada does indeed impose a 270 percent tariff on dairy that has kept many U.S. dairy products from making their way from the U.S. to Canada. And many other countries rely on similar measures to protect domestic industries.”

The U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada, but only if one calculates service industries – meaning largely that more tourism dollars flow southward than north, Worland wrote. Where real products are involved, we run a substantial deficit, which Trump says means less economic opportunity for people in the country he leads.

“Protective measures like Canada’s dairy tariff are common around the world. The U.S. uses tariffs to protect a variety of industries from a 350 percent tariff on tobacco to more than 160 percent on shelled peanuts. In other cases, such as sugar, the U.S. has crafted a complex program to protect domestic industry by limiting imports.”

The U.S. should not anger Canada because “trade policy experts say Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. is key to our domestic economy,” Worland wrote.

“Canada is the top U.S. export market, with the country buying more than $340 billion in American goods and services in 2017.”

The story does not take seriously Trump’s claims that other countries, including Canada, have too long taken advantage of our go-along-to-get-along trade strategy.

“Trump’s advisers described Trudeau’s statements as a slight that threatened to make the U.S. look weak right as the president was leaving for a summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.”

Unexplained was how Trudeau’s statement could be implied to “make the U.S. look weak.”

“Officially, the Trump administration used national security grounds to justify the tariffs [imposed on Canadian steel and other products in retaliation for Trudeau’s refusal to address his own tariffs on American goods], but Trump’s clash with Canada may have more to do with a perceived personal slight than the facts of the bilateral relationship.

“On Twitter, Trump complained that Trudeau had criticized U.S. trade policy – specifically U.S. tariffs on Canadian metals – after the Canadian premier had ‘acted so meek and mild’ in their one-on-one meeting. Trump said that he withdrew the U.S. from the G-7’s joint statement because of that fact.”

But the business had nothing to do with it, the president tweeted.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!”

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