For anyone worried that President-elect Donald Trump might conveniently forget the core messages of his campaign (the way so many of his predecessors have done), a leaked internal memo shows that he intends to make good on one of his most radical promises.
Obtained by CNN, the memo reveals the broad-strokes trade initiatives being planned by Trump and his transition team. The memo sketches out the first 200 days of the Trump administration with regards to NAFTA and free trade in general.
While we should take any such leaks with a grain of salt – the memo itself is just an early draft written “for discussion purposes only” – it does prove that Trump was serious about renegotiating America’s economic deals for the betterment of our domestic job market.
“The Trump trade plan breaks with the globalist wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties,” says the memo. “The Trump administration will reverse decades of conciliatory trade policy. New trade agreements will be negotiated that provide for the interests of US workers and companies first.”
The plan emphasizes five steps the administration plans to take in an effort to make these trade agreements more favorable to American workers. Included is a plan to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement from going into effect, to put an end to lopsided imports, to crack down on “unfair trade practices,” and to replace multilateral trade deals with direct, country-to-country agreements.
As president, Trump will likely face opposition from both parties on the subject of trade; Establishment Republicans and Democrats are all on the side of our current agreements. Even in the Tea Party wing, many conservatives are nervous about responding to economic woes with a crackdown on the free market.
This opposition is healthy; to succeed, Trump will have to sell his detractors on the wisdom of his vision – something Obama was unable to do with the TPP. Moreover, his administration would be well advised to explain the intricacies of free trade to the American people, most of whom haven’t got a clue about what these deals really mean for the domestic economy.
In the memo, the writers insist that any review of NAFTA must pay “extra consideration to the effects such a policy change may have on the middle class, manufacturing and service sector workers, and foreign direct investment into the United States.”
If Trump and his team of experts pursue trade adjustments with this kind of cautious sobriety, the results should speak for themselves.