President Trump’s U.S. trade policy of “America First”, free but FAIR trade, came to the forefront in Germany as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin subtly yet firmly pushed back against language that affirmed globalism and multilateral trade.
According to the Washington Post German officials urged Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to agree to their customary modern free trade language in the G20’s joint statement.
However, the U.S. Treasury Secretary refused their request and instead urged adoption of more general wording allowing each nation to make their own determinations of what constitutes “free and fair trade” with their own best interests in mind.
This approach is the basis for one-on-one bilateral trade. It is also the starting point toward negotiating exceptional trade deals by providing leverage which allows President Trump, Secretary Ross and Trade Rep Lighthizer to frame proposals (by competing nations) against each other. By holding firm to the basic trade outlook Secretary Mnuchin is setting the table for the U.S. trade team to renegotiate everything.
The disconnect from the traditional economic group-think of the G20 finance ministers is a direct break from the past two decades. This central approach reflects the baseline change in ongoing U.S. trade policy. It would appear President Trump and his economic team are more concerned about the interests of American workers than foreign nationals. Go figure.
Secretary Mnuchin suggested adding more general language committing to “strengthen the contribution of trade.” A version of that sentence was included in the statement, despite criticisms from some G20 finance ministers that it was pointless.
LOL ‘nevertheless Mnuchin persisted’… Oh well, they conceded. Good job Mr. Secretary.
Here’s the full press conference and remarks: