POLITICO has exclusively learned that President Donald Trump has begun discussing a trade war with China that could involve the U.S. withdrawing from its longstanding multilateral trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and ending a host of other bilateral deals that have served as a model for his approach to global trade.
The White House has not disclosed the specific specifics of the trade war, which has become a key component of Trump’s broader efforts to modernize U.N. peacekeeping operations.
But a senior administration official told POLITICO that the administration is looking to roll back many of the major deals and could end an agreement on intellectual property, the legal framework that sets the rules of the road for foreign companies to pursue trade deals.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
“If we could get rid of NAFTA, we’d do it immediately,” the official said.
The Trump administration is considering whether to end the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with China, which Trump has vowed to “cancel” as part of his strategy to renegotiate or exit NAFTA and TTIP.
While Trump has pledged to end NAFTA, the administration has been largely silent on the other two trade deals, which also have been a cornerstone of his domestic policy and have been the subject of intense criticism from Democrats.
In addition, the president has repeatedly questioned the validity of trade agreements that the U., the U.-S.
and other countries have signed in order to secure their economic interests and create jobs, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Vietnam and Australia.
In his address to Congress in February, Trump repeatedly criticized the trade agreements as “the worst trade deals ever signed.”
“This is a big, bad trade deal that will hurt our country,” Trump said at the time.
“The TPP will lead to massive job losses, loss of American manufacturing, and loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.
This is bad for our country.”
Trump has made the TPP and TTP the centerpiece of his “America First” agenda.
He has said he would pull the U-S.
out of the TPP if it does not improve its environmental and labor standards.
But the White House was mum about whether the president would end the deal or renegotiate it.
“I would love to renegotiat NAFTA, but that’s not possible,” a senior White House official told Politico.
“There’s a lot of issues to be resolved, including tariffs, trade preferences, and so forth.
We are still talking to them about what the terms of the renegotiation might be.”
Trump’s allies in Congress, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), are pushing for the president to renegotiated or exit the TPP.
The deal has been a top priority of Trump, who has repeatedly claimed that it is a “disaster” for American workers and has repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for signing it.
In February, after Trump signed the TPP, Schumer said, “We can’t wait for President Trump to decide what he wants to do.
It’s time for Congress to stand up and demand that the president take immediate action to stop the disastrous Trans-Atlantic Trade and Partnership.”
“The Trans-Asia Partnership is a disaster for America,” Schumer added.
“It will lead only to a loss of manufacturing and a loss.
This must be a no-brainer for President Donald J. Trump.
If he wants us to stay in the Trans Atlantic Trade and Protection Partnership, he needs to withdraw.”
But while Trump has promised to renegotiating or exiting the TPP as part the deal’s demise, the White Street Journal reported last month that Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, was “confident” the president could get away with rolling back the deal as part his broader strategy to modernise the U,NATO, and the U–S.
“He would be smart to go through the TPP again, but the trade deal was never his priority and it’s not going to be in his agenda,” Priebus told the Journal.
“So I think you can count on him to come up with a new way to get a better deal.”
While Trump’s supporters have criticized the TPP in the past for making it harder for U.K. companies to sell goods to China and other nations, the official who spoke to POLITICO said Trump has been “willing to talk” about withdrawing from the agreement.
“A lot of people say, ‘Trump’s not interested in the TPP,’ and I say, he’s interested in NAFTA,” the White Official said.
“And I think it’s fair to say that he’s more interested in doing it through renegotiation, rather than trying to make it happen through renegotiations.”
The official, who is not authorized to speak to the press, said Trump is still in “constructive talks” with his allies in the U — including