Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven held a joint press conference with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday and directly clashed with him over his plan to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Trump was roundly condemned by world leaders in the last several days for announcing the tariffs, even his own director of the Economic Council, Gary Cohn, who is said to be threatening his resignation should they be levied.
The Swedish Prime Minister was no different. He lashed out at Trump while sharing the same stage with him, saying they were bad policy, in effect.
“I’m convinced that increased tariffs will hurt us all in the long run,” Lofven said in his opening remarks before the press conference, as Trump stood by. “As a Swede I support the efforts of the European Union to achieve trade with fewer obstacles, as few as possible.”
Sweden PM Stefan Löfven rebukes Trump on tariffs in public remarks:
The European Union said that they would retaliate with tariffs of their own and specifically target states from top Republican members of Congress. They even mentioned Harley-Davidson by name, which is headquartered in Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.
“Import tariffs on steel and aluminum will drive up costs for all products made with these raw materials, regardless of their origin. Additionally, a punitive, retaliatory tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any market would have a significant impact on our sales, our dealers, their suppliers and our customers in those markets.”
Ryan came out recently saying he was “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war,” and rightly so. If the EU implements the plan, it would raise taxes on $3.5 billion worth of American goods, and hurt industries ranging from consumer, agricultural and steel products.
Ryan came out on Tuesday asking Trump for a “more surgical approach” that could somehow appease Trump’s concerns without having the tariffs, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was trying to “urge caution” with the president. Still, Trump wants tariffs. He even said he would re-retaliate with a new tax on cars should the EU act against the United States in kind.
“They make it almost impossible for us to do business with them,” Trump said “And yet they send their cars and everything else back into the United States and they can do whatever they’d like. But if they do that, then we put a big tax of 25 percent on their cars and they won’t be doing it very long. The European union has not treated us well. And it’s been a very, very unfair trade situation.”
Watch the entire press conference here: