President Trump admitted Wednesday he was surprised to learn the U.S. had a trade surplus with Canada, and said he was so sure the U.S. had a trade deficit that he insisted on it in a meeting last year with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
At a fundraiser Wednesday night, Trump said he guessed the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada "because we are so stupid" on trade, according to an audio tape acquired by the Washington Post.
Trump said during his meeting with the top U.S. ally, Trudeau told him the U.S. has a trade surplus with Canada.
“I said, ‘Wrong, Justin,'" Trump said. "I didn’t even know. ... I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’"
Trump said he had his staff check. "Check, because I can’t believe it," Trump said, after which an aide told him the U.S. runs a surplus with Canada.
Trump argued that when energy and timber are added in, the U.S. has a $17 billion trade deficit with Canada. That appears to be a reference to 2017 data that said the U.S. had a $17 billion goods trade deficit with its northern neighbor, but when services trade is added in, the U.S. has a small trade surplus with Canada.
On Thursday morning, Trump again seemed to stress the goods trade deficit by saying in a tweet that "We do have a trade deficit with Canada," something Trudeau didn't want to admit.
"We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive)," Trump tweeted. "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!"
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
While the press was playing up Trump's story on Thursday, Trump told the same story in December, when he admitted that Trudeau "was right" about the overall trade relationship between the two countries.