President Trump today refused to back off his contention that trade needs to be “fair” as well as “free,” maintaining a campaign promise that he will take measures on trade designed to protect American workers from unfair overseas practices.
Trump spoke at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, where the concepts of globalism and unfettered free trade are central. In a sense, he went into the belly of the beast and gave it a bit of indigestion.
But Trump was also quite solicitous toward the group, commending them frequently and using the speech as a method of advertising that the United States is once again open for business.
From Trump’s speech:
We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all.
The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, and pervasive state-led economic planning. These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers, not just in the U.S., but around the globe.
Just like we expect the leaders of other countries to protect their interests, as President of the United States, I will always protect the interests of our country, our companies, and our workers.
We will enforce our trade laws and restore integrity to our trading system. Only by insisting on fair and reciprocal trade can we create a system that works not just for the U.S. but for all nations.
As I have said, the United States is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries. This will include the countries in TPP, which are very important. We have agreements with several of them already. We would consider negotiating with the rest, either individually, or perhaps as a group, if it is in the interests of all.