Trump Stands By His ‘America First’ Trade Stance Throughout Asian Trip

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump has not backed down from his criticism of trade deals during his trip in Asia.

In stops in Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam, President Trump has attacked his predecessors for allowing other nations to take advantage of America.

“The United States has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan for many, many years,” Trump said during a stop at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Japan. The president throughout the trip declined to blame other nations for these trade deficits.

“I don’t blame China. Who can blame a country that is able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit,” Trump said standing next to Chinese President Xi Jinping after calling America’s trade relationship with China a “very one-sided and unfair one.”

The U.S. had a $309.6 billion trade deficit with China in 2016, according to government statistics.

Trump explicitly laid out his “America First” vision during a speech before leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Vietnam Friday.

“The current trade imbalance is not acceptable,” Trump said before countries that are currently involved in the final negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump decided to stop America from entering.

“From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.”

“I will make bilateral trade agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and that will abide by the principles of fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump added. “What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty, and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible.”