President Donald Trump’s admission Wednesday that he had no idea whether the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada underscores Canada’s ongoing contention that it has a trade deficit with the United States.
But, as it turns out, Trump’s own annual economic report, signed by the president, indicates that the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada.
According to a Washington Post report, Trump told a partisan crowd in Missouri that he had no idea whether the U.S. was ahead or behind on cross-border trade with Canada when he met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year.
Trump consistently tells Americans that the U.S. is suffering a massive trade deficit with Canada, suggesting “we lose a lot with Canada… Canada’s very smooth. They have you believe it’s wonderful. And it is, for them.”
However the White House’s own “Economic Report of the President” for 2018 contradicts that claim, saying Canada is almost unique in that it has a trade deficit with the US, stating “The United States ran a trade surplus of $2.6 billion with Canada on a balance-of-payments basis.”
Former U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, was quick to jump on the Post story. He suggested Trump was “throwing Canada under the bus” and “lying to [his] friends” in a series of Thursday morning tweets:
“Lying to your friends only hurts the relationship,” he wrote. “Canada has been there for us thru thick and thin. How can you casually damage this relationship? Shame on you!’
On Thursday, Trump responded on Twitter to the controversy by repeating his belief that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada — because “I know…”
We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive). P.M. Justin Trudeau of Canada, a very good guy, doesn’t like saying that Canada has a Surplus vs. the U.S.(negotiating), but they do…they almost all do…and that’s how I know!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2018