President Trump: 'Not backing down' on tariffs

President Donald Trump says "we're not backing down" on his push to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum despite criticism from fellow Republicans.

"No, we're not backing down," Trump told reporters at the White House, saying the U.S. “has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy,” on trade.

Asked if the move could trigger a global trade war, Trump responded, “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”

“I would imagine one of the points we will negotiate — tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico,” Trump said. “Right now, 100 percent. But it could be a part of NAFTA.”

The president spoke during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump’s comments come as he is facing mounting pressure from Republicans in Congress and business groups to go back on his decision.

Republicans -- including House Speaker Paul Ryan -- are striking back after President Trump announced last week he planned to raise tariffs on aluminum and steel coming into the US.

"We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said in a statement Monday morning. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains."

Leaders of the House Ways & Means Committee have drafted a letter to Trump expressing concerns about "the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports," according to Lauren Aronson, spokeswoman for the committee Chairman Kevin Brady.

"As the two Chairmen have reinforced, the Administration and Congress must work together on trade policies that build off the momentum of the President's tax cuts, which is why any tariffs should be narrow, targeted, and focused on addressing unfairly traded products, without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers," Aronson said in a statement.

Foreign governments have also threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs on American consumer goods that could make them less competitive in overseas markets.

But the president is making it clear he is determined to take action against what he says are foreign governments' unfair trade practices, a central theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump acknowledged just last Friday that such efforts could spark a trade war, comments that he appeared to contradict on Monday.

"When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," he tweeted.

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