During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said that he would force foreign countries to "pay the price," literally, for "cheating" the United States on trade. By forcing them he promised to slap them with tariffs, and on Monday, the administration announced that they would slap tariffs on Canada for their softwood lumber imports.

The Commerce Department claims to have determined that the U.S.' second-largest trading partner had been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber imports from the U.S. More recently, the President complained about Canada's dairy trade practices but its been said that the fight over the sale of softwood lumber has been ongoing since the 1980s.

Prior to Canada, China and Mexico were threatened

The President has made the same tariff threat to China and Mexico, and -- before softening his stance -- threatened to dismantle the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), specifically with Mexico, saying that they were stealing American jobs by luring companies there with low-cost labor. Trump represents the constituent who also believe that illegal Mexican immigrants are "stealing" jobs in much the same way within the United States. In a fight with Mexico, President Trump has threatened to slap border taxes and tariffs on Mexican imports.

And while the President has given the appearance that he has the upper hand to enforce those tariffs, as the title of an article by the San Francisco Chronicle says: "Trump is finding that trade, like health care, is quite hard," which says that Mexico could retaliate with its own tariffs, according to former Mexican president Vicente Fox who said so during an interview last Wednesday.

Fox was speaking at the Commonwealth Club where he said that trading was the benefit of two nations and not a zero-sum game. He stated that Mexico would be able to retaliate because they buy billions of dollars worth of good from U.S. firms and American farmers would lose a lot of money. This appears to be the case with the recent "fight" between President Trump and Congress where he has been trying to get funding for a border wall between Mexico and the U.S.

Rather than forcing them to approve money for the project; he's coming up against severe opposition on the Hill and has decided to move up his target to start construction toward the end of the year.

Softening his stance

But he has also softened his stance against China, who he appears to be more friendly since he's been talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping over their situation with North Korea.

He initially wanted to follow through on his campaign promise to call them currency manipulators but recently tweeted out he wouldn't call them that because they were helping the U.S. with North Korea. President Trump appears to be learning that he isn't able to be as forceful against other countries as he wants as he continues to face opposition from Congress and other countries.

As to the current situation with Canada, despite the Canadian government saying they would put up a fight against these newly implemented tariffs -- there are reportedly more to come in June -- the lumber industry is said to have had a few good recent years and that the tariff threat is beginning to upset some homebuilders.

Some would even say that even if the American lumber industry were at full capacity, they would still need lumber from Canada and therefore good relations. Perhaps the complications of the industry and how tariffs would either drive Trump's agenda or fail has yet to be determined. But, going after Canada is likely part of the learning curve for an administration that is learning on the job.