WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, unveiled a trade enforcement plan Tuesday, vowing to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, label China a currency manipulator and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected.
Trump, who has railed against global trade and its impact on U.S. jobs since launching his bid for the presidency last year, outlined a trade enforcement agenda that he will pursue if elected at a campaign event in Pennsylvania.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who supported TPP when she was Secretary of State, reiterated her opposition to the trade pact on Monday and pledged to appoint a special trade prosecutor to enforce trade deals and fight unfair practices.
It was unclear how many actions on Trump’s agenda he could take under executive authority and unilaterally without approval from Congress.
“A Trump administration will change our failed trade policies and I mean quickly,” he said in unveiling the steps he would pursue to bring back jobs lost to global trade and imports.
Topping his list was a vow to withdraw the U.S. from TPP. He called the trade deal a “danger” and asserted it would be a “death blow for American manufacturing” by empowering an international tribunal that he said would put the interests of foreign countries above those of the U.S., open the U.S. market to currency “cheaters” and open markets to subsidized and cheap foreign imports.
“There is no way to fix TPP,” Trump said. “We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive, international agreement that ties us up and binds us down like TPP does.”
Trade ministers signed TPP in early February and it now must be ratified by the 12 countries. TPP includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Chile, Brunei and New Zealand, and aims to remove barriers to trade to encompass nearly 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product if enacted.
Three steps in his trade enforcement plan were aimed at China. One included instructing his Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator, an action he said “should have been done years ago.”
The Obama administration has consistently declined to cite China for currency manipulation, which could lead to sanctions at the World Trade Organization, opting instead to use diplomatic tools to prod China into letting its currency appreciate.
“Any country that devalues their currency in order take unfair advantage of the U.S., which is many countries, will be met with…[punitive action] including tariffs and taxes,” Trump said.
Trump also said he would use every legal tool to remedy trade disputes with China and go after the country if it does not stop its “illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets.”
He also said he would instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to file trade cases against China, which the Obama administration has done as well.
Trump also pledged to immediately renegotiate the terms of NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.