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Trump To Sign Orders To Renegotiate NAFTA, Pull Out Of TPP

ASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump could sign an executive order as early as Monday intended to renegotiate the free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, NBC News reported, citing an unidentified White House official.

In addition to wanting to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the new Republican president also intends to sign an executive order pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), NBC reported.

Trump, who was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president on Friday, targeted both trade pacts during his White House campaign.

Officials were not immediately available to confirm the report to Reuters. Trump’s official schedule includes a 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) signing of executive orders in the Oval Office.

The president said on Sunday he planned talks soon with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to begin renegotiating NAFTA.

“We will be starting negotiations having to do with NAFTA,” Trump said at a swearing-in ceremony for his top White House advisers. “We are going to start renegotiating on NAFTA, on immigration and on security at the border.”

Trump said during the campaign he wanted to secure more favorable terms for the United States in the NAFTA pact.

NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, and other trade deals became lightning rods for voter anger in the U.S. industrial heartland states that swept Trump to victory.

CNN reported the first executive action Trump intended to sign was to pull out of the TPP, the trade agreement among 11 Pacific Rim countries that Democratic President Barack Obama strongly backed but was never ratified by the Republican-controlled Congress.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Ayesha Rascoe; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe)

IMAGE: U.S. President Donald Trump attends a swearing in ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, DC January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Germany Says U.S. Under Trump Must Abide By Trade Deals

BERLIN (Reuters) – Washington must stick to international agreements under the presidency of Donald Trump, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Friday, but does not expect a major trade war despite the President-elect’s attack on German car makers.

Trump – now hours away from his inauguration – has vowed to make sweeping changes to U.S. trade policy, and economists see his protectionism as the biggest risk to U.S. growth.

“The United States also signed international agreements,” Schaeuble told magazine Der Spiegel.

“I don’t think a big trade war will break out tomorrow, but we will naturally insist that agreements are upheld,” he said.

Trump criticized German auto makers this week for failing to produce more cars in the U.S. and warned that he would impose a tax of 35 percent on vehicle imports.

U.S. companies employ more than 600,000 people in Germany, the United States’ biggest European trading partner, and German firms employ roughly the same number in the U.S.

Schaeuble said he wished Trump luck if he wanted to tell Americans which cars to buy. “That’s not my vision of America and I don’t think it’s his either,” he said.

He also recommended not taking Trump’s practice of tweeting policy changes too seriously.

“One shouldn’t confuse Trump’s form of communication with statements of government policy. We will not participate in that,” he said.

Trump has triggered concern across German industry.

“Protectionism will not secure jobs in the medium- to long-term,” Dennis Snower, president of the Institute of World Economy, said in a statement.

“Trump is making foreigners the scapegoat for the fact that the American dream of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps isn’t working anymore.”

Marcel Fratzscher, head of the DIW economic institute, said Trump’s protectionism would not bring any jobs back to the U.S.

“On the contrary, he will destroy even more jobs,” he told German broadcaster MDR.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany also urged Trump to stick to free trade agreements, underscoring the importance of U.S.-German trade relations.

“Protectionist measures like tariffs and or the cancellation of international trade agreements have no place in a globalized world,” said the group’s president, Bernhard Mattes.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Louise Ireland)

IMAGE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference following talks with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke 

Trump Says U.S. Not Necessarily Bound By ‘One China’ Policy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of “one China,” questioning nearly four decades of policy in a move likely to antagonize Beijing.

Trump’s comments on “Fox News Sunday” came after he prompted a diplomatic protest from China over his decision to accept a telephone call from Taiwan’s president on Dec. 2.

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade,” Trump told Fox.

Trump’s call with President Tsai Ing-wen was the first such contact with Taiwan by a U.S. president-elect or president since President Jimmy Carter switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China.”

Beijing considers Taiwan a renegade province and the subject is a sensitive one for China.

Chinese officials had no immediate reaction to Trump’s remarks.

After Trump’s phone conversation with Taiwan’s president, the Obama administration said senior White House aides had spoken with Chinese officials to insist that Washington’s “one China” policy remained intact. The administration also warned that progress made in the U.S. relationship with China could be undermined by a “flaring up” of the Taiwan issue.

Following Trump’s latest comments, a White House aide said the Obama administration had no reaction beyond its previously stated policy positions.

In the Fox interview, Trump criticized China over its currency policies, its activities in the South China Sea and its stance toward North Korea. He said it was not up to Beijing to decide whether he should take a call from Taiwan’s leader.

“I don’t want China dictating to me and this was a call put in to me,” Trump said. “It was a very nice call. Short. And why should some other nation be able to say I can’t take a call?”

“I think it actually would’ve been very disrespectful, to be honest with you, not taking it,” Trump added.

Trump plans to nominate a long-standing friend of Beijing, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, as the next U.S. ambassador to China.

But Trump is considering John Bolton, a former Bush administration official who has urged a tougher line on Beijing, for the No. 2 job at the U.S. State Department, according to a source familiar with the matter.

In a Wall Street Journal article last January, Bolton said the next U.S. president should take bolder steps to halt China’ military aggressiveness in the South and East China seas.

Bolton said Washington should consider using a “diplomatic ladder of escalation” that could start with receiving Taiwanese diplomats officially at the State Department and lead to restoring full diplomatic recognition.

In the Fox interview, Trump brought up a litany of complaints about China that he emphasized during his presidential campaign.

“We’re being hurt very badly by China with devaluation, with taxing us heavy at the borders when we don’t tax them, with building a massive fortress in the middle of the South China Sea, which they shouldn’t be doing, and frankly with not helping us at all with North Korea,” Trump said. “You have North Korea. You have nuclear weapons and China could solve that problem and they’re not helping us at all.”

Economists, including those at the International Monetary Fund, have widely viewed China’s efforts to prop up the yuan’s value over the past year as evidence that Beijing is no longer keeping its currency artificially low to make Chinese exports cheap.

RAISING ‘LIKELIHOOD OF MISUNDERSTANDING’

The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial that Trump was “naive like a child on diplomacy” and that the ‘one China’ policy “could not be bought or sold”.

When the time comes, the Chinese mainland will launch a series of “decisive new policies toward Taiwan”, the paper said.

“We will prove that all along the United States has been unable to dominate the Taiwan Strait and Trump’s desire to sell the ‘one China’ policy for commercial interests is a childish urge,” it said.

Wang Yiwei, an international relations professor at Beijing’s elite Renmin University, said Trump was possibly using the Taiwan issue to try and strike a bargain with the United States over trade.

“He wants to get the best possible trade deal with China he can so that he can boost the U.S. economy,” Wang said.

Some U.S. analysts warned that Trump could provoke a military confrontation if he presses the Taiwan issue too far.

“China is more likely to let the whole relationship with the United States deteriorate in order to show its resolve on the Taiwan issue,” said Jessica Chen Weiss, an associate professor of government at Cornell University and an expert in Chinese nationalism.

“When the decision to end a decades-long practice is made with so little warning and clear communication, it raises the likelihood of misunderstanding and miscalculation and sets the stage for a crisis between the United States and China over Taiwan,” Chen Weiss said.

Mike Green, a former top adviser on Asia to former President George W. Bush, said ending the “one China” policy would be a mistake because it would throw the U.S.-China relationship into turmoil and jeopardize Beijing’s cooperation on issues such as North Korea.

But Green, who is now with the CSIS think tank, said he did not believe that Trump intended to go that far and there was “logic to serving Beijing notice that he will not be dictated to on issues like Taiwan.”

“President Obama was too accommodating to Beijing early on and it reduced his leverage as China asserted itself on issues like the East and South China Seas later,” Green said.

On Sunday, China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi was traveling to U.S. neighbor Mexico, according to the official news agency Xinhua, but Mexican officials could not offer details.

Mexico has been deepening ties with China, which is partly funding a multi-billion dollar wholesale mobile network while China Offshore Oil Corporation took two of the eight blocks of deep water oil fields offered in a historic auction this month.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Jeff Mason and Veronica Gomez in Mexico City; and Michael Martina and Christian Shepherd in Beijing; Editing by Alan Crosby, Peter Cooney and Lincoln Feast)

IMAGE: U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a “Thank You USA” tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

Trump’s Corporate Targets Face Tricky Task In Fending Off His Attacks

By Nick Carey and Emily Stephenson

As the White House race took off last summer, food giant Mondelez International found itself in an unusual position: Republican candidate Donald Trump began delivering broadsides against one of its iconic products, Oreo cookies.

“Nabisco is closing a factory in Chicago, and they’re moving to Mexico. No more Oreos. I don’t like Oreos anymore,” Trump told a crowd in New Hampshire on Aug. 14, reacting to reports that Mondelez was shutting down some production lines at its Nabisco subsidiary in Chicago while boosting output in Mexico.

Trump’s statement that Mondelez was closing a Chicago factory was erroneous, as the company quickly pointed out, but that didn’t stop him from repeating it.

It’s unusual for a top presidential candidate, especially a representative of the business-friendly Republican Party, to attack major U.S. corporations by name.

But over the course of his unconventional campaign, Trump has aimed his fire at a range of companies, mostly for shifting jobs abroad (Ford Motor Co, United Technologies Corp unit Carrier Corp) but also for building products in foreign markets (Apple) and for what he said were violations of antitrust laws (Amazon).

Trump has threatened the companies with boycotts, tariffs, taxes and other punishments. The Trump campaign declined to comment for this story.

Some of the companies saw their share prices dip in the wake of Trump’s criticism while others experienced a small boost.

But all of them were presented with a dilemma that’s familiar to the presumptive nominee’s many vanquished Republican rivals: Should they engage with a possible future president known for holding a grudge, possibly inviting more wrath, or should they lie low and risk allowing Trump to define them and to push policies they deem harmful?

Most have sought to stay out of the fray even as Trump has kept up the drumbeat of criticism.

“I am fighting hard to bring jobs back to the United States Many companies – like Ford, General Motors, Nabisco, Carrier – are moving production to Mexico,” Trump said this week. This was “bad for all Americans,” he said.

It was the first time Trump included GM in his roster of corporate wrongdoers, though the Trump campaign later removed GM from the statement and declined to say why. GM declined comment.

 

MONDELEZ TREADS CAREFULLY

Mondelez, previously known as Kraft Foods, took a different tack.

After Trump vowed to boycott Oreos, Mondelez fielded numerous media inquiries and contacted reporters when the company deemed press coverage of his remarks off base, said Laurie Guzzinati, who oversees governmental affairs in North America for Mondelez.

The company didn’t engage in any Trump-bashing, though Guzzinati said Trump’s comments were “grounded in inaccuracies.”

She said she told reporters that Mondelez would continue to make Oreos in three locations in the United States, countering the impression Trump may have left that Oreos would no longer be made in the United States.

Mondelez’s response tracks closely what crisis management experts recommend for Trump-targeted companies.

Hilary Rosen, a managing director for Washington, D.C., communications firm SKD Knickerbocker, said her firm was representing corporate clients who have been singled out by Trump, though she declined to name them.

Rosen’s advice to clients, she said, is “don’t depend on educating Donald Trump on the truth. People have tried and failed.”

Rosen, a Democrat, recommends instead that companies make their case to the journalists who cover Trump, so “Donald Trump does not define you.”

None of the companies targeted by Trump acknowledged hiring outside consultants to deal with his criticism. Many declined to comment for this story.

 

AVOIDING THE MUD

“You’re not going to win in a one-on-one confrontation with Donald Trump. You’re just going to get mired in the mud,” said Juda Engelmayer, senior vice president for crisis management at 5W Public Relations in New York.

Those who have been willing to engage, including Ford Chairman Bill Ford, have avoided getting too personal.

Trump has railed against Ford for manufacturing vehicles in Mexico, threatening a tariff of up to 40 percent on “every car, bumper and part” entering the United States from Mexico.

Ford, the great-grandson of the automaker’s founder Henry Ford, called Trump’s critique “distorted” and said the company instead should be “held up as a real success story.”

“We didn’t take the (government) bailout,” during the 2007-2009 recession, Ford told reporters at a conference in Detroit on May 23, contrasting his company with GM and Chrysler. “We paid back our debts. We pulled ourselves up by our boot straps. We are investing in America.”

Crisis management experts said companies targeted by Trump need to be thinking more about the policy implications of his presidency. That means, for example, shoring up support in the U.S. Congress for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump has said he wants to renegotiate.

A trade lobbyist who asked not to be named because he has worked with one of the companies Trump has called out said Trump’s attacks do not particularly hurt companies’ reputations in Washington, because policymakers understand presidential campaigns are the “political silly season.”

But, he said, they can impact broader efforts on trade and other policies. “I think what this suggests,” he said, “is that there needs to be a concentrated effort by the business community to talk about the benefits of trade.”

 

Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, Jessica Toonkel in New York and Joseph White in Detroit; editing by Eric Effron and Ross Colvin

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump looks at the crowd while addressing The Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road To Majority” conference in Washington, U.S., June 10, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts