WASHINGTON – Departing U.S. top trade negotiator Michael Froman said he understands Americans’ anxiety that global trade will hurt U.S. jobs and the economy, but he is also optimistic that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will “find its way.”
Froman said that federal officials need to make an “all-out and long-term” effort to make clear to Americans how trade improves their lives.
“We need to make it clear that disrupting trade means cell phones will only be for the wealthy, not for the single mother using her cell phone to FaceTime with her kids during her break,” Froman said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Friday.
He also said that President-elect Donald Trump needs to walk away from his campaign positions on trade, and think about second- and third-order effects.
Calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership “a rape of our country” during the election, Trump has pledged to withdraw from the trade deal on his first day in office.
Trump’s nominee for the next U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer was a deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration at a time when the U.S. was flooded with imports from Japan.
Trump’s trade plans have been criticized by the nation’s largest business group and even his own secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson.
On Wednesday, U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief Tom Donahue warned the incoming administration that erecting trade barriers would slow economic growth in 2017. The same day, Tillerson said during his confirmation hearing that he “does not oppose” the trade deal that Trump vilified throughout the campaign.
With a week remaining in office, the Obama administration filed a trade complaint Thursday at the World Trade Organization against China over subsidies for aluminum producers, the 16th challenge that the U.S. launched against China’s practices over the past eight years.
Froman has previously said that the U.S. has won every case decided so far.