Steve Mnuchin on Free Trade



Supports USMCA trade agreement to replace NAFTA

The USMCA is a new trade pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada, intended as a stronger and modernized replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin: "The US-Mexico-Canada deal will open markets and create economic opportunities for workers and businesses across North America. Modernizing this agreement rebalances our important trade partnerships and will boost economic growth for our three nations."

Source: White House press release "USMCA" in Trump Cabinet statement , Oct 2, 2018

Free market proponent but tariffs OK to reduce trade deficit

While colleagues describe Mnuchin as someone who believes in free markets and views trade barriers as a last resort, those close to the secretary say he has learned to appreciate President Trump's use of the threat of tariffs as a negotiating tool. In talks with China, he has been focused on the president's desire to see the bilateral trade deficit reduced, rather than emphasizing some of the other trade barriers that many lawmakers and executives say put American companies at a disadvantage.
Source: Alan Rappeport in N. Y. Times on 2018 Trump Cabinet , Jun 3, 2018

3-part agenda: tax & regulatory relief; free & fair trade

Q: You said there is the potential of a trade war with China. How should Americans prepare for that risk?

MNUCHIN: Actually, I said our expectation is that we don't think there will be a trade war. Our objective is to continue to have discussions with China. We want to have free and fair, reciprocal trade. We're just looking for our companies and our workers to have a level playing field. And right now, we have about $500 billion of goods that we buy from China and they buy about $135 billion from us.

Q: This has caused such nervousness in the markets--

MNUCHIN: The markets have had a lot of volatility in general. The market is still up a tremendous amount since the election. The tax plan is kicking in. Our regulatory relief is kicking in. Trade has always been the third part of our agenda. But let me just put this in perspective. If we can open up their $10 trillion economy for us to compete fairly, this is one of the single biggest opportunities long term for U.S. companies.

Source: CBS Face the Nation 2018 interviews of Trump Cabinet members , Apr 8, 2018

Free markets YES, but U.S. needs balanced trade agreements

"There's no doubt that the secretary [Steve Mnuchin] represents the president's very strong view that we believe in free trade," the [U.S. Treasury] official told reporters. "But the environment we're in now, where the expectation is America totally subordinates its national interests in order for the free trade system to work, is just one we don't accept. So, we've been very clear, we believe in free trade with reciprocal terms that leads to more balanced trade relationships."
Source: David Lawder, Reuters News Service, on Trump Cabinet , Mar 19, 2018

Protectionist instinct to label China a currency manipulator

One of Mnuchin's challenges will be to live up to Trump's promises on trade. Mnuchin is thought to share his boss's protectionist instincts. He will determine trade policy alongside Wilbur Ross, Trump's nominee for commerce secretary. Ross is a vocal critic of recent trade deals. At the commerce department, he will oversee trade enforcement, such as the imposition of tariffs. At the Treasury, Mnuchin will have such responsibilities as declaring China a currency manipulator.
Source: The Economist newsmagazine coverage of 2016 Trump transition , Dec 3, 2016

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