Trump specified when he signed a memorandum withdrawing from the TPP earlier this week that the administration was not going to shy away from trade deals altogether but would shift to focus solely on bilateral deals. And with an eye toward fulfilling a promise to reach agreements quickly, the administration has already outlined a set of criteria it'd like to see in each new agreement, Peter Navarro, director of the White House's new National Trade Council, said on Wednesday.
[Megan Cassella| January 26, 2017 |Politico]
Navarro and Commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross will push for agreements that tighten rules-of-origin requirements, crack down on steel and aluminum dumping, and reduce the trade deficit by requiring nations to buy more U.S. products, the former economics professor said in an interview on CNBC. They are also concerned about state-owned enterprises having unfair trade advantages and would look to find a way to combat that, he added.
While he said the administration was starting on its bilateral trade agenda this week, Navarro declined to specify which country will be at the front of the line. "If I tell you, I'd have to kill you," he joked. "That's a state secret."
He promised only that they would be able to wrap up negotiations far more quickly than usually happens in a multilateral context, where talks can drag on for years. "As we're negotiating with one country here, we're going to be negotiating with another country there and another country there as we move forward, so I think it's a much more efficient way," he said. "This is Trump land ... we'll get things done."
NAVARRO DREAMS OF GERMANY: In the same CNBC interview, Navarro pushed back against the idea that advances in automation and artificial intelligence technologies have done more to reduce the number of manufacturing jobs in the United States than trade deals, saying there's room for both robots and advanced manufacturing jobs in the economy. His ideal example? Germany.
Navarro said the administration will push for one-fifth of the country's workers to be employed in manufacturing fields - the same rate, he said, as Germany, which he called "the most advanced country in the world in terms of robotics."
"We envision a more German-style economy, where 20 percent of our workforce is in manufacturing," he said. "And we're not talking about banging tin in the back room. We're talking about high technology across the board, whether it's computer chips or cars or anything in between."