President Donald Trump defended his proposed steel tariffs at the White House Monday, saying he doesn't anticipate a trade war.
The topic came up during an appearance with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
Following a working lunch with Netanyahu, Trump answered a handful of questions from reporters about his positions on border security and pertinent trade issues.
"No, we're not backing down," Trump told a reporter in the distance. "Mexico is is–we've had a very bad deal with Mexico. Very bad deal with Canada. It's called NAFTA," Trump said of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
He then lamented jobs leaving the country and said he's been working to renegotiate the trade deal.
"And if we don't make a deal, I'll terminate NAFTA," Trump said.
The president said if he does make a deal, the plight of American steelworkers needs to be addressed.
"Our country on trade has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it's friend or enemy–everybody," Trump said.
"I don't think you'll have a trade war," Trump added in response to another question. "I don't think so."
Trump's comments followed an announcement last week that he planned to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. The plan caught many Republican lawmakers off guard. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah.), a Trump ally, called the decision a "tax hike the American people don't need and can't afford" and Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) referred to it as leftist economic policy.
Following the Thursday announcement, the president tweeted Friday that "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."
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) on Sunday praised Trump's announcement, saying any concerns about rising costs for Americans were "Wall Street talking."