Your Vote Ohio: Donald Trump’s position on trade

Compiled by the Jefferson Center for the Your Vote Ohio project.

AP Photo - Donald Trump

AP Photo - Donald Trump


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These are position statements on foreign trade made by Donald Trump on his web site and in speeches.

Position: Declare China a currency manipulator.

Implementation Plans: We need a president who will not succumb to the financial blackmail of a Communist dictatorship. President Obama’s Treasury Department has repeatedly refused to brand China a currency manipulator — a move that would force China to stop these unfair practices or face tough countervailing duties that level the playing field.

Economists estimate the Chinese yuan is undervalued by anywhere from 15 to 40 percent. This grossly undervalued yuan gives Chinese exporters a huge advantage while imposing the equivalent of a heavy tariff on U.S. exports to China. Such currency manipulation, in concert with China’s other unfair practices, has resulted in chronic U.S. trade deficits, a severe weakening of the U.S. manufacturing base and the loss of tens of millions of American jobs.

In a system of truly free trade and floating exchange rates like a Trump administration would support, America’s massive trade deficit with China would not persist. On day one of the Trump administration the U.S. Treasury Department will designate China as a currency manipulator. This will begin a process that imposes appropriate countervailing duties on artificially cheap Chinese products, defends U.S. manufacturers and workers, and revitalizes job growth in America. We must stand up to China’s blackmail and reject corporate America’s manipulation of our politicians. The U.S. Treasury’s designation of China as a currency manipulator will force China to the negotiating table and open the door to a fair — and far better — trading relationship.

Position: End China’s Intellectual Property Violations.

Implementation Plans: China’s ongoing theft of intellectual property may be the greatest transfer of wealth in history. This theft costs the U.S. over $300 billion and millions of jobs each year. China’s government ignores this rampant cyber crime and, in other cases, actively encourages or even sponsors it without any real consequences. China’s cyber lawlessness threatens our prosperity, privacy and national security. We will enforce stronger protections against Chinese hackers and counterfeit goods and our responses to Chinese theft will be swift, robust, and unequivocal.

The Chinese government also forces American companies like Boeing, GE, and Intel to transfer proprietary technologies to Chinese competitors as a condition of entry into the Chinese market. Such de facto intellectual property theft represents a brazen violation of World Trade Organization and international rules. China’s forced technology transfer policy is absolutely ridiculous. Going forward, we will adopt a zero tolerance policy on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. If China wants to trade with America, they must agree to stop stealing and to play by the rules.

Position: Eliminate China’s Illegal Export Subsidies And Other Unfair Advantages

Implementation Plans: Chinese manufacturers and other exporters receive numerous illegal export subsidies from the Chinese government. These include — in direct contradiction to WTO rules — free or nearly free rent, utilities, raw materials, and many other services. China’s state-run banks routinely extend loans to these enterprises at below-market rates or without the expectation they will be repaid. China even offers them illegal tax breaks or rebates as well as cash bonuses to stimulate exports.

China’s illegal export subsidies intentionally distort international trade and damages other countries’ exports by giving Chinese companies an unfair advantage. From textile and steel mills in the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast’s shrimp and fish industries to the Midwest manufacturing belt and California’s agribusiness, China’s disregard for WTO rules hurt every corner of America.

The U.S. Trade Representative recently filed yet another complaint with the WTO accusing China of cheating on our trade agreements by subsidizing its exports. The Trump administration will not wait for an international body to tell us what we already know. To gain negotiating leverage, we will pursue the WTO case and aggressively highlight and expose these subsidies.

China’s woeful lack of reasonable environmental and labor standards represent yet another form of unacceptable export subsidy. How can American manufacturers, who must meet very high standards, possibly compete with Chinese companies that care nothing about their workers or the environment? We will challenge China to join the 21st Century when it comes to such standards.

Position: The Trump Plan Will Strengthen Our Negotiating Position.

Implementation Plans: As the world’s most important economy and consumer of goods, America must always negotiate trade agreements from strength. Branding China as a currency manipulator and exposing their unfair trade practices is not enough. In order to further strengthen our negotiating leverage, the Trump plan will:

• Lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent to unleash American ingenuity here at home and make us more globally competitive. This tax cut puts our rate 10 percentage points below China and 20 points below our current burdensome rate that pushes companies and jobs offshore.

• Attack our debt and deficit by vigorously eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government, ending redundant government programs, and growing the economy to increase tax revenues. Closing the deficit and reducing our debt will mean China cannot blackmail us with our own Treasury bonds.

• Strengthen the U.S. military and deploying it appropriately in the East and South China Seas. These actions will discourage Chinese adventurism that imperils American interests in Asia and shows our strength as we begin renegotiating our trading relationship with China. A strong military presence will be a clear signal to China and other nations in Asia and around the world that America is back in the global leadership business.

Position: Trade Reform.

Implementation Plans:

• Appoint trade negotiators whose goal will be to win for America, narrowing our trade deficit, increasing domestic production, and getting a fair deal for our workers.

• Renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

• Withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership.

• Bring trade relief cases to the WTO.

• Label China a currency manipulator.

• Apply tariffs and duties to countries that cheat.

• Direct the Commerce Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations.

Our trade deficit in goods is almost $800 billion on an annual basis. The trade deficit subtracts from growth and costs U.S. jobs. This has hurt working Americans because good-paying manufacturing jobs are hard to find. Less than half of the population 25 and older without a high school diploma is in the workforce; the unemployment rate of those who are in the almost 30 percent higher than the overall unemployment rate. This leads to poverty and an increase in demands on the nation’s social service network. Better trade policies can reverse this outcome dramatically.

Hillary Clinton has supported every major trade deal responsible for job losses in the United States, and will enact the TPP if given the chance.

TPP will hammer the car industry because it does not resolve, among other things, the substantial non-tariff barriers to U.S. cars being sold in Japan and other countries — including currency manipulation, excess supply and closed dealerships. According to the Peterson Institute, TPP would increase the automobile trading deficit by $23 billion by 2025.

Other Statements:

“China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit. They break the rules in every way imaginable. China engages in illegal export subsidies, prohibited currency manipulation, and rampant theft of intellectual property. They also have no real environmental or labor protections, further undercutting American workers.

“Just enforcing intellectual property rules alone could save millions of American jobs. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, improved protection of America’s intellectual property in China would produce more than 2 million more jobs right here in the United States.

“Add to that the saved jobs from cracking down on currency cheating and product dumping, and we will bring trillions of dollars in new wealth and wages back to the United States.”

“Trade has big benefits, and I am in favor of trade. But I want great trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Isolation is not an option, only great and well-crafted trade deals are.” (Donald Trump Economic Speech in Detroit, Aug. 8, 2016)

Mike Pence: “Donald Trump and I both support free trade, but the time has come, whether it be with NAFTA or all of these multinational agreements, like the TPP, that America take a step back and ask whether or not these trade deals are working for the American worker.”

When asked about his previous support for NAFTA, Pence said, “The time has come for us to reopen NAFTA, and renegotiate it with a president who’s proven himself to be one of the most skilled business leaders and negotiators in the world.” (Interview with Alisyn Camerota, CNN, Aug. 22, 2016)

Compiled by the Jefferson Center for the Your Vote Ohio project.

AP Photo - Donald Trump Photo - Donald Trump

Compiled by the Jefferson Center for the Your Vote Ohio project.


See more coverage of the Your Vote Ohio series at

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