In his State of the Union address to Congress last night, President Donald Trump spoke of the “great American comeback” and claimed that “[t]he years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used, taken advantage of, and even scorned by other nations are long behind us.” His prepared speech focused briefly on international trade issues, stating that new U.S. factories are under construction and “companies are not leaving; they are coming back to the USA.”
Explaining that “unfair trade is perhaps the single biggest reason that I decided to run for President,” Trump noted passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) into law, claiming that the agreement “will create nearly 100,000 new high-paying American auto jobs, and massively boost exports for our farmers, ranchers, and factory workers. It will also bring trade with Mexico and Canada to a much higher level, but also to be a much greater degree of fairness and reciprocity.” He added that USMCA is “the first major trade deal in many years to earn the strong backing of America’s labor unions.”
Trump spoke briefly about his promise to “impose tariffs to confront China’s massive theft of America’s jobs” after years of China exploiting the trade relationship. “Now we have changed that, but, at the same time, we have perhaps the best relationship we’ve ever had with China, including with President Xi. They respect what we’ve done because, quite frankly, they could never really believe that they were able to get away with what they were doing year after year, decade after decade, without someone in our country stepping up and saying, ‘That’s enough.’” He claimed that the recently signed “Phase One” trade agreement with China will “defend our workers, protect our intellectual property, bring billions and billions of dollars into our treasury, and open vast new markets for products made and grown right here in the USA.”
In his only other remarks on international relations, the president touched upon economic sanctions toward Cuba and Venezuela and his support of those countries’ citizens to restore democracy. Trump stated that “my administration reversed the failing policies of the previous administration on Cuba” and that the United States is “leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.” Despite recent tensions with Iran and stalled talks with North Korea, Trump made no reference to how his administration may continue to address relations with these countries.
Shortly after the president’s address, the White House released a series of fact sheets on the various topics covered in his message, including “President Donald J. Trump is Fighting for Fairer Trade that Benefits American Workers.”