President Donald Trump on Tuesday made a bizarre and factually inaccurate statement about the trade relationship between America and Japan that left CNN fact checker Daniel Dale utterly baffled.
During a speech supposedly about energy production in Pennsylvania, Trump once again suggested that Japan was ripping off the United States because it did not import enough American products.
“I told [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe, great guy, I said, ‘Listen, we have a massive deficit with Japan,'” he said. “They send us thousands and thousands — millions! — of cars, we send them wheat. Wheat! That’s not a good deal. And they don’t even want our wheat, they do it to make us feel that we’re okay, you know, they do it to make us feel good.”
The U.S. trade deficit with Japan was $56.8 billion in 2018, as the United States exported $120.4 billion worth of goods and services to Japan, while importing $177.1 billion.
Contrary to the president’s claims, however, the Office of the United States Trade Representative says that top exports to Japan in 2018 included mineral fuels ($8.8 billion), machinery ($8.2 billion), optical and medical instruments ($7.5 billion), aircraft ($6.5 billion), and electrical machinery ($4.8 billion).
Additionally, wheat was not even the top agricultural export to Japan, as the United States exported significantly more in corn, beef, pork, and soybeans.
Trump’s statement about trade with Japan was so strange that CNN fact checker Dale could only write “???” after transcribing it.
Trump falsely suggests that the US only exports "wheat" to Japan, then says Japan doesn't even want the wheat it buys from the US, "they do it to make us feel good." (???)
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 13, 2019
Watch the video below.
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