President-elect Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said on Wednesday that he wants to overhaul how the U.S. negotiates free trade agreements, urging a “systematic re-examination” process that would assess where a deal falls short and listing reciprocity and simultaneity of concessions as two of the principles he wants to include in his model.
[Daily News| January 18, 2017 |Inside US Trade]
“I think there are a number of these conceptual issues that have not been present in prior trade agreements but I would hope that, if confirmed, I can contribute toward designing kind of a model trade agreement where we would introduce certain principles that would have to be in any agreement,” Ross told the Senate Commerce Committee during his confirmation hearing on Jan. 18.
“I think that's a huge mistake to start out each time with kind of a blank page,” Ross continued, adding that doing so “makes it take longer, makes it harder to negotiate.”
“The best negotiating tool is to be able to tell someone 'I can't change this, this is official policy, you know it is -- we got it in 10 other deals, we're not going to give you anything different,'” he testified. “That's a much better position, in my opinion, than starting out with a blank slate.”
Ross repeatedly stressed the need for a re-examination process “after a period of time” -- without elaborating on when -- in which trade agreements can be assessed based on whether the deal has met key goals.