Trade and economy at heart of Trump’s Foxconn groundbreaking event remarks

President Donald Trump speaks at the Foxconn groundbreaking event. Photo courtesy of WISN-TV Channel 12.

It wasn’t a major portion of his speech, but President Donald Trump’s week of criticism of Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. found its way into his remarks following the groundbreaking ceremony for Foxconn Technology Group’s LCD manufacturing campus in Mount Pleasant.

“Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the U.S.A,” Trump said. “Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute.”

The week started with Harley announcing it would shift production of motorcycles destined for Europe to its international facilities to avoid new tariffs issued by the European Union following Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Several times this week the president has taken to Twitter to criticize the company’s decisions, saying customers wouldn’t forget.

Trade and tariffs were a central part of his remarks at the Foxconn event Thursday. His remarks lasted about 35 minutes. Click here to see a video of the event, including Trump’s remarks.

“We are demanding from foreign countries, friend and foe, fair and reciprocal trade,” Trump said.

He said his goal is to level out trade relationships and said, “It’ll all work out.”

“The smart people love it, some people don’t understand,” Trump said.

He pointed to trade issues with Canada on dairy and trade deficits with Mexico and China.

“We’ve helped rebuild China. Someday they’ll say thank you, but we don’t want to do that any more. We want to have a fair and balanced situation. It doesn’t have to happen immediately, but it has to be fair,” he said.

Trump also questioned European tariffs on agriculture while German cars come into the United States.

“If you don’t want our agricultural products, we don’t want your cars,” he said. “It’s not that complicated a formula.”

He said the pressure he’s applied with steel and aluminum tariffs will prompt European countries to negotiate.

“Frankly, don’t tell them I said it, but they already have, don’t ever tell them I said that, it will screw up my negotiations,” Trump said.

He also said the tax cuts he signed into law late last year are “at the center of America’s economic resurgence,” pointing to companies repatriating cash from overseas.

Trump suggested the country’s GDP growth could reach 4 or even 5 percent.

“I think we’re going to go even higher than that, but that may be in a second term, okay, can I have a little break?” he said.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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