WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump appears to be building a multilayered approach to trade policy as evidenced by the appointment Tuesday of a new aide for international negotiations.
Trump has tapped Jason Greenblatt, an executive of the Trump Organization, as special representative for international negotiations, a new advisory role that he defined in broad terms.
“Jason is one of my closest and most trusted advisers,” said Trump. “He has a history of negotiating substantial, complex transactions on my behalf, as well as the expertise to bring parties together and build consensus on difficult and sensitive topics. His talents lend themselves perfectly to the role I have asked him to play, assisting on international negotiations of all types and trade deals around the world.”
Greenblatt serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer of Trump’s company and spent the past two decades representing Trump and his family in “diverse legal and business affairs, concentrating on all aspects of domestics and worldwide real estate development and other businesses,” Trump’s communications office said.
He has also been one of Trump’s principal advisers on the U.S.-Israel relationships during the campaign.
“My philosophy, in both business and in life, is that bringing people together and working to unite, rather than to divide, is the strongest path to success,” Greenblatt said. “I truly believe that this approach is one that can yield results for the United States in matters all over the world.”
In appointing Greenblatt to the advisory role, Trump appears to be expanding and diversifying his trade policy team beyond that more centralized role of the U.S. Trade Representative and its office.
He has already indicated that his choice for Commerce Secretary, billionaire Wilbur Ross, will take the lead role in shaping his trade agenda, traditionally reserved for USTR, who has served as a trade ambassador and chief negotiator in past administrations.
Trump has not yet announced his choice for USTR. Among the top contenders are Jovita Carranza, founder and chief executive officer of the business consulting firm JCR Group and a former Small Business Administration executive, and Dan DiMicco, former ceo of Nucor Steel, who is leading Trump’s “landing team” at the USTR office and has been a critic of free-trade policies in the U.S.
Others reportedly in the running are: Robert Lighthizer, an attorney specializing in international trade at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and a former deputy U.S. Trade Representative in the Reagan administration; Wayne Berman, a senior executive with the Blackstone Group who worked as a former Commerce Department official under President George H.W. Bush, and Rep. Charles Boustany (R., La.), a free-trade and strong enforcement advocate.
Trump is also establishing new White House national trade council to help advise him on global trade and U.S. manufacturing and has tapped Peter Navarro, a Harvard-trained economist and professor at the University of California Irvine to head it. Navarro is a vocal critic of China and the author of “Death by China” and “The Coming China Wars.”
Trump has vowed to pull the U.S. out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership deal on the first day of his administration and he has also pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, label China a currency manipulator and impose a 35 percent tariff on imports of companies that offshore.