On March 6, Peter Navarro, Director of the White House’s newly formed National Trade Council, made his first major speech. It was the keynote address to a conference hosted by the National Association for Business Economics. Many of his views seem to be reflected in the 2017 Trade Policy Agenda that was released on March 1, 2017.

Set forth below are excerpts from the transcript of the speech (compiled from “uncorrected closed captioning”) published by CSPAN:

On his role:

  • “I manage a trade council swat team. This is to help our ranchers and farmers with any type of problem they may be having, whether it is with a cheating competitor or difficulty within our own bureaucracy or anything in between.”
  • “At the macro level, I also have been tasked with assisting on trade-related issues and the important trade negotiations that will soon be moving forward.”

On the danger of trade deficits and foreign investment:

  • “If the current distorted market patterns continue, to paraphrase, in the long run we are all likely to be owned by foreigners.”
  • “The ‘conquest by purchase’ is too simplistic, too sanitized and to benign. Suppose that it is not a benign ally buying our companies, our technologies, our farmland and our food supply chain and ultimately controlling much of our defense industrial base. Rather, it is a rapidly militarizing strategic rival intent on hegemony in Asia and of course world hegemony. How much of this alternative version of conquest by purchase [*inaudible* ] and our sons and daughters? [*inaudible*] we may lose by cash registers ringing? Maybe lose a hot war?”
  • “Today, after decades of trade deficits, the mass migration of our factories offshore, we have only one company in the entire United States that can repair submarine propellers. Today, we do not have a single company in the US that can make flat pan panel displays for our military aircraft.”
  • “Meanwhile, our steel industry is on the ropes and our aluminum industry is flat on its back. Our shipbuilding industry is gathering particles. We have already begun to lose control of our food supply chain. There is a full war ground game underway for the foreign purchase of large swathes of treasures in Silicon Valley.”

On blaming automation:

  • “For those of you who will inevitably claim that automation, not bad policy, is the real problem in the decline of manufacturing employment in America, I note for the record Germany, by contrast, has some of the most advanced robotics in the world and continues to employ 20% of its workforce in manufacturing.”

On negotiating better trade terms:

  • “If we can reduce our trade deficit through tough an smart negotiations, we can increase our growth rate. Let me give you an example. If you successfully negotiate bilateral trade deals with Germany and Mexico this years, as a key part of the term sheet, each country agrees to purchase more [*inaudible*] from the United States than it now purchases from the rest of the world, this would show up in the government data. It would be increased US exports, decreased trade deficit and an increase in US GDP growth.”
  • “If the US uses its leverage as the world’s largest market to persuade India to reduce its notoriously high tariffs and Japan to lower its formidable non-tariff barriers, we will surely sell more Washington apples, Florida oranges, California wine and Wisconsin cheese and Harley Davidson motorcycles.”

The 2017 Trade Policy Agenda outlined by Professor Navarro represents a departure from prior administrations. His is not the only voice on trade policy, but his White House role provides a significant platform for advancing his ideas on “free, fair and reciprocal trade.”