The European Union is ripping us off and creating a trade imbalance. But Canada is not. So President Donald Trump's truculence at the G-7 summit was directed at the wrong target.
The U.S. trade deficit with Canada is only $17 billion. In 2017, we sold Canada $282 billion worth of goods and bought $299 billion worth of goods from them.
And most of their imports to us consist of oil, freeing us from dependence on the Middle East and Russia. We get about 20 percent of our oil and 41 percent of our imported petroleum from Canada. We share, with them, in effect, a North American OPEC that is increasingly dominating the world. When Iran threatens to jack oil prices up to $140/barrel (as they did on Saturday), Canada permits us to tell them to stuff it.
Trump has a case against the European Union. Our 2017 trade deficit with the EU was a whopping $151 billion. We sell them $283 billion worth of merchandise and buy $434 billion worth of merchandise from them.
Trump picked on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau largely because he resented being blindsided by a post-meeting press conference where the Canadian leader blasted the U.S. for trying to "push Canada around."
His choice of targets reminds me of the comment by Senator Ted Cruz that, under Trump, we might wake up one morning and find out that, in a fit of personal pique, "we just nuked Denmark."
President Trump, en route to an historic meeting in Singapore, may have regarded the G-7 meeting as a workout for his negotiations with North Korea.
In his book "The Art of the Deal," he underscores the importance of showing one's negotiating adversary evidence of your strength and willingness to walk away. If his stance on Canada was a warmup for Singapore, he could have chosen a better and more appropriate target.
Canadians cherish their differences with the United States. They are proud of their social welfare system and value their historic political position of being left of the 50 states. By attacking them in this way, Trump likely did Trudeau a big favor. The young prime minister has big shoes to fill after following his distinguished father, and many who know him think he sometimes falls short.
He wouldn't value Trump's support. But he can sure make hay at his criticism.