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Trump tells donors he made up trade claim in Trudeau talk

President Donald Trump freestyled with the facts when talking trade with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The president described the discussion during a fundraising speech in St. Louis on Wednesday.

According to audio obtained by The Washington Post , Mr. Trump insisted that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada.

Mr. Trump said Trudeau told him there was no trade deficit. The president said he replied, "'Wrong, Justin, you do.' I didn't even know. I had no idea. I just said, 'You're wrong.'" Mr. Trump claimed the figures don't include timber and energy.

However, the Office of the United States Trade Representative says the United States has a trade surplus with Canada.

Mr. Trump backed up those claims again in an early morning tweet on Thursday. "We do have a trade deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive)," he claimed.

He said that Trudeau, who he referred to as "a very good guy" in his tweet "doesn't like saying that Canada has a surplus vs. the U.S." He added," But they do, they almost all do and that's how I know"

CBS News' Steven Portnoy points out that according to US Census figures, the U.S. does have a trade deficit but only in goods with Canada. 

Portnoy adds that the United States exports more in services to Canada like travel, transportation, software, than it buys from its northern neighbor. Add all the goods and services that cross the border each year, and you have an overall trade surplus. 

A spokesperson for the Canadian Office of the Minister of Foreign affairs responded to the president's comments in a statement Thursday afternoon

"Canada and the United States have a balanced and mutually beneficial trading relationship.  According to their own statistics, the U.S. runs a trade surplus with Canada. We are energetically at work modernizing and updating NAFTA to support good jobs and the middle class in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The Office of the United States Trade Representative confirms that "the U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016." 

During his speech to donors, the president also went on a tirade against allies for taking advantage of the U.S. and described the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a "disaster."

In audio of the remarks, he lambasted leaders for wanting to keep the trade agreement, referring to Mexico as "spoiled" and said that Canada had outsmarted the U.S. "The best deal is to terminate it and make a new deal," he said.

He added, "Our allies care about themselves. They don't care about us."

Mr. Trump also appeared to suggest pulling U.S. troops in South Korea if a trade deal wasn't worked out, just as the U.S. appears to be open to participating in talks with the North Koreans. "We have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them," Mr. Trump said. "We lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea. Let's see what happens."

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