WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump will begin the process of reshaping America’s trade policy on Day 1 of his administration, according to a memo drafted by his transition team obtained by CNN.
The document lays out the skeleton of Trump’s trade policy for the first 200 days of his presidency, focusing on a set of principles including renegotiating or withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement — a frequent promise Trump made on the campaign trail.
The memo itself notes that plenty could change before Trump starts his presidency on January 20, 2017, calling the contents “for discussion purposes only.” But the draft memo reveals what the Trump transition team has developed as a blueprint for Trump’s administration based on its pre-election work and Trump’s own campaign promises.
“The Trump trade plan breaks with the globalist wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties,” the document notes. “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 200-day plan is built around five main principles, plus an extra plank on manufacturing jobs. First is renegotiating or withdrawing from NAFTA, second is stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, third is stopping “unfair imports,” fourth is ending “unfair trade practices,” and fifth is pursuing bilateral trade deals. The final focus, to “retain and return manufacturing jobs,” focuses on lowering the business tax rate and eliminating regulations on businesses and restrictions on domestic energy.
The provisions on TPP are almost certainly moot, as congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle say the deal will not come up for ratification in the lame duck congressional session. Trump would then not need to take any action to kill it, because the deal would be effectively dead.
The plan also gives benchmarks for Days 1, 100 and 200 of the Trump administration.
On Day 1, Trump would begin reforming NAFTA, including ordering the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to begin a study on what the ramifications of withdrawing from the treaty would be, and what would be required legislatively to do so. He would also have the US Trade Representative notify Mexico and Canada that the US intends to propose some amendments to the treaty, which could include measures on currency manipulation, lumber, country of origin labeling and environmental and safety standards.
A draft presidential memorandum at the end of the document that could be used to order the review of NAFTA orders the report to 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.”
Trump would also submit legislation on currency manipulation, review whether our trading partners engage in “harmful” practices, and would order the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US to review food security in trade and reciprocity in international corporate takeovers (i.e. whether a US company would be able to buy a Chinese company like a Chinese company would be able to be buy a US company).
By Day 100, the plan says, Trump would continue NAFTA renegotiations, would pursue cracking down on China by seeing if they could be labeled a currency manipulator and through bilateral trade negotiations. He would also bring the intelligence community into the trade world.
By Day 200, Trump would be considering formally withdrawing from NAFTA and continuing to pursue bilateral trade agreements. The document notes that Congress has granted the President Trade Promotion Authority — power for the President to get trade deals through Congress more swiftly — until 2018 and it could be extended until 2021.
The memo notes caveats, including that there could be negative consequences of withdrawing from NAFTA. But the document also notes those impacts could be mitigated if the US were to pursue bilateral trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.
The Trump transition didn’t respond to a request for comment about if Trump had reviewed the document and what his thoughts were.