Trump’s trade policy speech draws criticism from conservatives, praise from Sanders

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump delivered an economic policy speech at a raw materials production facility in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday, proposing specific reforms to America’s various international trade agreements.

As expected, the speech was particularly critical of tariff-free trade with low-cost labor countries like China and Mexico and tied the Clintons to past and future deals that the New York real-estate mogul said leaves “millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.”

“It’s time to declare our economic independence once again,” Trump announced in prepared remarks. “That means reversing two of the worst legacies of the Clinton years . . . First, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) . . . Second, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history.”

Trump was also condemned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), supported by President Obama and formerly, Hillary Clinton, saying such an agreement “would give up all of our economic leverage to an international commission that would put the interests of foreign countries above our own.”

Instead, as president, Trump said he would seek “bilateral trade deals,” where negotiations would be simplified; renegotiate NAFTA under threat of withdrawal; prosecute China for illegally subsidizing exports and manipulating their currency; impose tariffs on Chinese imports; enact “massive tax reform”, cut “wasteful rules and regulations”, and promote policies to increase domestic energy production.

Resistance to Trump’s proposals came from many sources, including the New York Times, which pointed out that the U.S. executive branch can only enact tariffs on specific imported products, thus forcing producers to move to other cheap labor countries.

However, the most notable critic of Trump’s protectionist proposals was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, posting a series of tweets to refute the likely GOP nominee’s claims that free-trade has hurt the average American worker.



An unlikely supporter of Trump’s proposals is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who wrote an op-ed for the New York Times on Wednesday saying the “the global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world,” and that the Brexit vote in the UK last week “should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party.”

Trump himself also fired back at the Chamber of Commerce in a tweet Wednesday, which said that the pro-business group “must fight harder for the American worker. China, and many others, are taking advantage of U.S. with our terrible trade pacts”.

Watch Trump’s entire speech from Alumisource in Monessen, Pennsylvania, below:


[New York Times] [Politico] [AP] [CNN] [Photo courtesy FiveThirtyEight via]