June 10 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump called into a cable news program Monday to refute comments by the chief of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who'd said his recent threat of tariffs on Mexico would cause harm to the U.S. economy.
Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs for the chamber, told CNBC Monday the practice of using tariffs against other countries to obtain something in exchange sets a dangerous precedent. Trump issued the threat to Mexico last week, promising to begin tariffs if Mexico City didn't do more to keep migrants from crossing into the United States. The tariffs, set to take effect Monday, were averted with a new immigration agreement Friday.
"The weaponization of tariffs -- the increase of threats on our economy on our farmers, our manufacturers, our consumers -- is going to hurt our country," Brilliant told CNBC. "It also creates uncertainty with our trading partners. The world is watching."
Brilliant said a new agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada is another reason the threat was a bad move. The proposal is pending in Congress.
A short time later, Trump called in defend his strategy.
"Without tariffs, we would be captive to every country and we have been for many years," Trump said. "That's why we have an $800 billion trading deficit for years. We lose a fortune with virtually every country. They take advantage of us in every way possible and the U.S. Chamber is right there with them.
"Tariffs are a beautiful thing when you're the piggy bank."
"If we didn't have tariffs we wouldn't have made a deal with Mexico," he added.
Trump said he believes the United States will also prevail in its trade conflict with China, which is also marked by numerous tariffs.