WASHINGTON–White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down Thursday on President Donald Trump’s claim this week that the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada.
In an audio file obtained by the Washington Post, Trump told fundraiser attendees Wednesday that he did not know if the U.S. has a trade deficit with Canada while insisting to the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that it does.
At the fundraiser, Trump reportedly told the attendees that the U.S. ultimately has an annual trade deficit with Canada of $17 billion.
“There is a trade deficit, and that was the point he was making—is that he didn’t have to look at the specific figures because he knew that there was a trade deficit,” Sanders said. “Whether they got down into the dollar amount or not, there is a trade deficit between the two countries.” Sanders said she didn’t have at hand the amount of the trade deficit the White House says exists.
The Commerce Department reported a trade surplus for 2016 of $7.7 billion. That surplus dropped to $2.7 billion with Canada in 2017, according to the agency. Last year the U.S. imported more goods from Canada than it exported to the NAFTA partner, for a deficit of $23.2 billion. But that deficit was overcome by a surplus of $25.9 billion in services, including banking or tourism.
Trump reportedly also told the fundraiser attendees that the Japanese conduct a “bowling ball” test by dropping a bowling ball on car hoods to determine whether a car under consideration for importation into Japan is safe.
“Obviously he’s joking about this particular test, but it illustrates the creative ways some countries are able to keep American goods out of their markets,” Sanders said.