Not surprising, with is mercantilist views, President Trump appears to be on the wrong side on this one.
The Financial Times reports:
A civil war has broken out within the White House over trade, leading to what one official called “a fiery meeting” in the Oval Office pitting economic nationalists close to Donald Trump against pro-trade moderates from Wall Street.Nothing good is going to come of this, Navarro is all about wacko protectionism and Cohn is for crony trade. But Navarro is worse.
According to more than half a dozen people inside the White House or dealing with it, the bitter fight has set a hardline group including senior adviser Steve Bannon and Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro against a faction led by Gary Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs executive who leads Mr Trump’s National Economic Council.
At the centre of the debate is Mr Navarro, a firebrand economist who has angered Berlin and other European allies by accusing Germany of exploiting a “grossly undervalued” euro and calling for bilateral discussions with Angela Merkel’s government over ways to reduce the US trade deficit with Europe’s most powerful economy.
The officials and people dealing with the White House said Mr Navarro appeared to be losing influence in recent weeks. But during the recent Oval Office fight, Mr Trump appeared to side with the economic nationalists, one official said...
According to people familiar with White House discussions, Mr Cohn and others have seized on Mr Navarro’s public comments — and widespread criticism by economists of his stand on trade deficits and other matters — to try and sideline him.
That has led to discussions over moving Mr Navarro and the new National Trade Council he leads out of the White House and to the Commerce Department, headed by another Wall Street veteran, Wilbur Ross.
Mr Cohn has also been featuring more prominently in discussions over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, one of Mr Trump’s top trade priorities.
After a meeting with Mr Cohn and other White House officials on Thursday, Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, said the goal was to wrap up talks quickly and by the end of this year. That contradicted Mr Ross, who has called for deeper and potentially longer talks that could drag well into next year.
Mr Navarro’s case has not been helped by his interactions with Republicans in Congress. He was criticised for being ill-prepared and vague at a closed-door briefing he held with Senators last month to discuss Mr Trump’s trade agenda and angered some Republicans as a result.