Donald Trump dialed into “Mornings with Maria” on the Fox Business Network this morning, and talked about everything from trade to social media, the 2020 presidential race, and much more.
On trade, he had particularly harsh words for Europe, even though most of his ire of late has been focused on China. “Europe treats us worse than China. Europe is—believe me, you know, look—I come from Europe. We come—you [Maria] come from Europe, okay? You’re of one—you’re of the European nations. European nations were set up in order to take advantage of the United States,” he told Fox host Maria Bartiromo, who is of Italian heritage, in an apparent reference to the 28-member European Union.
“You know, with Europe, we lose approximately… 180 billion, 181 billion dollars,” he said later on in the call. “The Europeans have taken advantage of us—I’m serious, worse than China. They have worse trade barriers than China—they don’t take our product, we take their product. They send us cars, they don’t take our cars. Europe has treated us very badly.”
Though Trump is correct that the US has maintained a long-running trade deficit with the EU—driven primarily by the trade in goods (“they send us cars”), because the US runs a surplus in the trade of services—it has never reached the strangely specific $181 billion cited by Trump.
The EU’s origins, meanwhile, date back to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, beginning with the European Coal and Steel Community in the early 1950s. The initial members of the group—Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany—believed that economic integration would guarantee peace on a continent recently ravaged by war.
Trump didn’t speak ill of all Europeans: He praised Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Under Draghi’s watch, the ECB cut its benchmark interest rates to below zero, and left them there, while the US Federal Reserve steadily hiked rates in response to a strengthening economy. Trump has criticized Fed chairman Jerome Powell for not cutting interest rates, and Powell fired back recently by emphasizing the Fed’s independence and warning about “the damage that often arises when policy bends to short-term political interests.”
Last week, Draghi suggested that extra monetary stimulus may be necessary to boost the shaky euro-zone economy. Trump criticized the move at the time, saying it made it “unfairly easier” for Europe to compete with the US. Today, he said, “We should have Draghi instead of our Fed person.”