Donald Trump's commercial advisors pulling in and out

Donald Trump's commercial advisors pulling in and out
Donald Trump's commercial advisors pulling in and out
In the spring, the Chinese did not come back. Neither the Europeans, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the Commission, this summer: Donald Trump's commercial teams quarrel and send each other names of birds in front of their hosts and the president. Two camps clash: on the one hand, protectionist "nationalists" - trade advisor Peter Navarro and trade representative Robert Lighthizer -; on the other, the "globalists", traditional Republicans influenced by Wall Street and free trade supporters - Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Commissioner Wilbur Ross and Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow.

Mr. Trump lets go, trapped in his own contradictions: "Well, I'm a nationalist and I'm a" globalist ". I'm both, "said the White House tenant at the Wall Street Journal in April 2017. The junction point? Pretend that the US partners are not playing the game of free trade and be alarmed by China's desire for power.

Peter Navarro, the anti-Chinese ideologist. This former professor at the University of California at Irvine was famous with two books, in 2006 and 2011, warning against China. His vision of the conflict with Beijing is not commercial, but geostrategic and civilizational: Mr. Navarro wants to fight a China that contests the American supremacy. He had joined Donald Trump's campaign team early, but had been marginalized over the months. Private direct access to the president, Mr. Navarro, 69, then bypasses the blocking by inviting on television sets that Mr. Trump regularly looks. This strategy is bearing fruit. The president makes it known that he appreciates the way this clever speaker speaks. Mr. Navarro took advantage of the resignation of economic adviser Gary Cohn in March 2018, at the beginning of the trade war, to escalate. He opposes head of the Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which he regularly deals with "Neville Chamberlain", in reference to the British Prime Minister who, with France, went under the fork of Adolf Hitler in Munich in September 1938.


Steven Mnuchin, the partisan of the compromise. Silence would be, according to the press, the way for this former banker of 55-year-old film producer Goldman Sachs to express his dissatisfaction with Donald Trump. During a trip to Beijing in May 2018, he tries to establish a personal relationship with the Chinese negotiator Liu He, whom he decides to meet alone. The case gives rise to a memorable altercation with Mr. Navarro at the house of state guests. Mr. Mnuchin temporarily wins the game, announcing that the Chinese will reduce the trade deficit and the "suspension" of the war with the former Middle Kingdom. Las! Mr Navarro explained that Mr Mnuchin was misunderstood and Robert Lighthizer, the Trade Representative, said that the United States is ready to use "every means to protect their technology through tariffs". A few days later, the first sanctions are decreed.

Robert Lighthizer, the adept of the strong way. At 70, Robert Lighthizer appears as the big winner of the battle that is currently playing. Because he is the only one to master the files, he is respected by the "globalists", but also by the nationalists, whose ideas he shares. Still opposing China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, he believes that successive US administrations have been fooled by Beijing. As a result, he advocates the strong way to get him to change his attitude about technology transfers and undue subsidies to his economy.

The ideological formation of this man goes back, like that Donald Trump, to the first mandate of Ronald Reagan (1981-1985). At the time, the designated enemy was Japan. Assistant to the Trade Representative, he obtained self-restraint agreements for automobile exports and the protection, through customs duties, of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Became a lawyer, he defended American steel producers for years. The opportunity to confront the WTO, whose rules are, for him, biased to the benefit of China. A creed particularly compatible with that of Mr. Trump. By the fall of 2017, Robert Lighthizer had exposed to stunned American bosses that he understood their goal of maximizing their profits. "My job is different. My job is to represent American workers. And here we will not agree, "he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Wilbur Ross, the big loser. At 80, this businessman, whose fortune amounts to 700 million dollars (nearly 600 million euros), is the oldest minister ever appointed in the United States. At the beginning of Mr. Trump's term, Mr. Ross was working on trade negotiations with China, before being removed from the file in the summer of 2017 because of his too soft. This winter, he has negotiated at length with the Europeans to avoid the taxes on steel, a total waste.

Larry Kudlow, the opponent of the trade wars. When Donald Trump calls him, this economist turned television commentator thinks he will be scolded because of his critical remarks about customs barriers. It's really about him being named an economist at the White House, after Gary Cohn left. Like Robert Lighthizer, Larry Kudlow, 71, is a former Reagan team member, but a liberal version. In July, he gave a serious helping hand to Europeans to suspend the threat of customs duties on cars. He is opposed to trade wars, but, as he summed up in June: "The person in charge of trade is, unequivocally, President Trump."

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