Trump Vows to Cancel TPP and Puts NAFTA on Notice

Print Friendly

By S.A. Miller – The Washington Times – Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Donald Trump vowed Tuesday that if elected president he would cancel a pending trade deal (the Trans-Pacific Partnership) with Pacific Rim countries and demand Mexico and Canada accept sweeping changes to NAFTA — or else he will nix that one, too.

It was part of an anti-globalization agenda that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee offered to revitalize U.S. manufacturing and bring back jobs, as he upended the free trade consensus that has dominated American policy under Republican and Democratic presidents. In a Tuesday evening speech in Ohio, he even called an impending free trade deal a “rape” of the U.S.

Speaking in Pennsylvania, where he hopes his populist economic message resonates, the billionaire businessman said globalization had failed American workers. He pinned many of the country’s woes on deals struck by President Bill Clinton, whose wife, Hillary Clinton, is the likely Democratic nominee.

“This is not some natural disaster. It is politician-made disaster,” Mr. Trump said of a decline in manufacturing over decades. “It is the consequence of a leadership class that worships globalism over Americanism.”

The speech, titled “Declaring American Economic Independence,” was delivered in Monessen, a city along the Monongahela River in an area that was hit hard by globalization and the decline of the steel industry.

“Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache,” he said.

He also repeatedly tied Mrs. Clinton to “elites” and Wall Street bankers, who he said sold out U.S. workers. It echoed charges levied against Mrs. Clinton by her rival in the Democratic primary race, Sen. Bernard Sanders, whose far-left run tapped into similar populist strains.

“The people who rigged the system are supporting Hillary Clinton because they know as long as she is in charge nothing will ever change,” said Mr. Trump. He went on, “Hillary Clinton and her friends in global finance want to scare America into thinking small — and they want to scare the American people out of voting for a better future.”

Mr. Trump said he offered real change, not the kind promised by Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign for president. Beyond trade, he hit Mrs. Clinton for backing anti-coal policies and favoring high taxes and burdensome regulations that he said strangle American businesses.

Pennsylvania, which hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988, is shaping up to be a key battleground. The state’s blue-collar voters are expected to be receptive to Mr. Trump’s aggressive message on trade, as are those in Ohio, which is also a must-win state for Republicans.

Mr. Trump later held a rally in nearby St. Clairsville, Ohio, where he denounced the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as a sellout of American workers — and worse. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country — just a continuing rape of our country,” he said. “It’s a harsh word, but it’s true.”

The Clinton campaign described his trade policies as potentially catastrophic to the economy.

Trump’s policies pose a serious threat to our economy, including potentially costing 3.5 million American jobs, exploding the national debt, and plunging us back into a deep recession,” said the campaign.

Mrs. Clinton said in an interview that Mr. Trump was peddling a “cruel fantasy” by promising to bring back manufacturing jobs and roll back illegal immigration.

The real estate tycoon has made his ability to broker “smart” trade deals a cornerstone of this campaign, but his rhetoric reached new heights and he challenged his own party’s belief in free trade policies.

He proposed to deal harshly with China, one of the nation’s largest trade partners, threatening to officially designate the country a currency manipulator and taking it to trade court on charges of engaging in illegal practices, including stealing U.S. trade secrets.

Mr. Trump said he was ready to slap punitive tariffs on China and other countries that “cheat,” and he scoffed at Mrs. Clinton and other likely critics of his get-tough policies.

He said there was precedent for using tariffs to protect U.S. products form unfair competition. He cited President Reagan’s use of his authority to impose tariffs to beat back influxes of motorcycles and microprocessors in the 1980s.

Hillary Clinton, and her campaign of fear, will try to spread the lie that these actions will start a trade war,” said Mr. Trump. “She has it completely backwards. Hillary Clinton unleashed a trade war against the American worker when she supported one terrible trade deal after another.”

Mr. Trump traced the country’s economic problems back to the North American Free Trade Agreement that Mr. Clinton signed in 1993 and the entry of China into the World Trade Organization, which the Clintons supported but occurred in 2001 under President George W. Bush.

Mr. Trump presented a seven-point plan:

 

  • Withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama but has not been ratified by Congress.
  • Appoint the “toughest and smartest” trade negotiators.
  • Direct the secretary of commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements by foreign countries and use every tool available to end the abuses.
  • Force a renegotiation of NAFTA or pull out of the agreement.
  • Designate China as a currency manipulator.
  • Bring trade violation cases against China in the U.S. and with the World Trade Organization.
  • Use presidential powers to impose punitive tariffs on China if it does not end illegal trade practices, including the theft of American trade secrets.

That to-do list likely irritated many Republican leaders who have wed themselves to free trade policies, which also won’t help Mr. Trump mend his rift with the party establishment.

Still, Mr. Trump’s trade stance reflected a broader “America first” theme for his campaign. “We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs,” he said. “On trade, on immigration, on foreign policy, we are going to put America first again. We are going to make America wealthy again.”

He predicted that voters would reject “Hillary Clinton’s politics of fear, futility and incompetence.”

Kristin Kanthak, a political science professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said Mr. Trump’s message would resonate.

“There are lots of people angry about the loss of manufacturing jobs in this region, and Trump’s message of wanting to bring those jobs back certainly appeal to a wide swath of voters here,” she said.

S.A. Miller reports from Capitol Hill on politics, policy and political campaigns for The Washington Times. He can be contacted at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

Comments

  1. Paul Costantino says:

    Trump doesn’t have the power to cancel trade deals. Blowing smoke as usual. And why did he pick a vice president with the opposite views on trade? Full of crap as usual. He would be an “all bark and no bite” president if the rational people in the party can’t stop the insanity.

  2. Frank Shannon says:

    Paul,

    I beg your pardon, America can easily withdraw from TPP anytime prior to passage. Regarding NAFTA, this agreement is supposed to be reviewed periodically to see if it is meeting expectations. This has never been done and can be done anytime the U.S. decides to do so. Regarding naming China a currency manipulator, the Congress requires the President, every 6 months, to declare whether or not China is a manipulator of their currency. Everyone, including economists in China, recognize that China is guilty and yet every 6 months for over a decade the American President declares he can see no manipulation.

    These could be done immediately, would be a good start and signal a new direction that America plans to be a sovereign nation, again.

    BTW, Mike Pence recently announced he is for be-lateral agreements on trade – not the multilateral agreements that have very little to do with trade and are more about global governance.

    Frank

  3. Roswitha Moertl says:

    The Trade War with China has already started with a 522% tariff on steel and a case for dumping brought to the WTO. Rumblings of push back on currency manipulation have also brought threats from China. We do currently have an actual working President doing his best to thread the needle on trade. I will say that Trump is finally letting people write his speeches so we can get something out of him other than I have a good brain, our trade agreements are bad, very very bad and the Chinese love me (along with everyone else apparently) because they are tenants in my building. As for his deal making abilities, let’s just say his ghost writer for Art of the Deal came forward even though he knew he would be sued, to try to wake up America to the real Donald…a “Sociopath” who has not read a book in decades yet alone written one. A Thin Skinned Narcissist who does not care about anyone but himself and a mental midget who can’t concentrate for more than a minute or two on one thing, yet alone develop a complex global strategy for the United States. A con man with no impulse control and an inability to comprehend even simple issues. He did it because Donald Trump is so dangerous to America’s future, he felt he had no other choice. If Mike Pence does for the US what he did for Indiana, we will face wage reversals and business stagnation. He could not get reelected dog catcher in Indiana which is why he got into the Trump Clown Car as VP. His Orwellian Religious Freedom Bill put him on the National Map as a Right Wing Tea Party Religious Nutcase only slightly less fit to be President than Trump himself. I truly pray we can make America Safe Again…from Donald Trump and his followers. I started out a Republican and then reason and my conscience made me look around and see that after Reagan the Republican Party moved more and more to the extreme right and I remained a moderate…an Eisenhower Republican. My party left me, but we finally elected an Eisenhower moderate…his name is Barack Obama. If you look at the Republican Party Platform from the 50’s to the trash that came out of this year’s convention, you will have all the clarification you need to not vote for Trump. We are at a dangerous crossroads and John Kasich got it right and I admire him for it.

  4. Frank Shannon says:

    Rosie,

    I agree that a trade war was started long ago (1994) and we immediately surrendered. Japan threatened push-back when Reagan did what Trump said he will do to China. Japan relented when faced with strength from the Reagan admin. China will as well if we ever find the backbone to stand up to their mercantilism.

    Frank

Speak Your Mind

*