In a speech in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday afternoon, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump outlined a seven-point plan to bring millions of jobs to the U.S. that involved labeling China a currency manipulator.
He proposed renegotiating unconfirmed trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and told his audience he would pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement. In a first, Trump challenged China for “illegal activities” and vowed to label the country he did real estate business with a currency manipulator.
“I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator,” he said. “Any country that devalues their currency in order to take unfair advantage of the United States — and all of its companies who can’t (then) compete —will face tariffs and to stop the cheating.”
Getting Tough With China
Trump also vowed to instruct the office of the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the World Trade Organization.
“China’s unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the World Trade Organization, and I intend to enforce those rules,” he said.
“If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with federal law,” he added.
Manipulation? Or ‘Legitimate Nominal Price?’
Trump has lambasted “bad trade deals” such as NAFTA and TPP for more than a year and even his democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has flipped from initial support of TPP as it was attacked by both Trump and her fellow democrats, but the vow to label China a currency manipulator is a first for any major party candidate since NAFTA.
China is not a signatory to TPP, but many on the democratic side have long attacked the People’s Republic for how it values, and devalues, its currency — and the resulting advantage given to its exporters — as unfair market manipulation. Free traders of both parties were left to defend it, but republican support of such a laissez-faire attitude has evaporated since Trump’s stunning primary ascendancy.
A bipartisan anti-currency manipulation bill sponsored by Ohio Senators Rob Portman (R.) and Sherrod Brown (D.) — which proposed the very type of sanctions Trump now trumpets — has gone nowhere in the world’s greatest deliberative body since it was introduced in February.
By putting currency manipulation on the ballot, Trump is shrewdly speaking directly to the employees of industrial raw material producers such as steelmakers, aluminum smelters, miners and energy producers.