Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Anti-Trade Protectionist Now Has a Regular Weekly Meeting With Trump

When President Trump replaced the National Trade Council on April 29 with the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, some viewed that as the crazed protectionist Peter Navarro losing influence at the White House.

But the Executive Order that created the OTMP states that the OTMP is to "serve as a liaison between the White House and the Department of Commerce and undertake trade-related special projects as requested by the President."

The Commerce Department is a hotbed of protectionist sentiment. It is run by the hardcore protectionist and close personal friend of the President, Wilbur Ross.

So the formation of the OTMP may just be a streamlining of how protectionist policy ideas get in front of the President.

Further, we have this report from The Wall Street Journal this morning:
 Mr. Navarro, 67 years old, said he has started to meet one-on-one with Mr. Trump once a week for about 15 minutes. He said he advises Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and will also counsel Robert Lighthizer if Mr. Lighthizer is confirmed, as expected, as U.S. Trade Representative...
President Trump took Mr. Navarro with him on a trip to Harrisburg, Penn., to mark the 100th day of his administration. There, he called Mr. Navarro “one of the greats trying to protect our jobs” and gave Mr. Navarro a pen he used to sign the order creating the new trade office. Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a steel-industry group, said Mr. Trump’s actions indicate Mr. Navarro won’t be bumped out of the White House, as some administration officials and trade lobbyists speculated.

The administration has launched a number of studies focusing on trade barriers, the trade deficit and excess capacity in the aluminum and steel industries, Mr. Navarro said. Trade analysts say the studies could be used to lay the groundwork to impose protective tariffs.
There appear to be some pro-trade (or at least crony trade) influences at the White House led by  Gary Cohn, Director of the National Economic Council, but with Trump having protectionist sympathies, Ross in his ear, and Trump's "need" to generate revenue to balance his tax cuts. it is likely more protectionist measures, especially tariffs, will be instituted by the Trump administration in the near future.


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