Donald Trump has released the first hint of what his Administration's trade platform will be, and it's a far cry from the sweeping reforms he promised on the campaign trail.

The US President-elect launched a new website on Friday in which he outlined his policy priorities for the coming four years.

Some sections mirror the extreme promises he made during the campaign. On immigration, for example, Trump reaffirms his pledge to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico, and to crack down on illegal immigrants.

But on trade his tone softens and he speaks almost entirely in generic catchphrases: "Free trade is good trade as long as it is fair trade"; "On a level playing field, we can compete, and win"; and "American workers are the best in the world".


It is what is not said on the website that is of most interest. There is no mention of rejecting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) or leaving the World Trade Organisation.

Trump steers clear of his campaign slogans on import tariffs, such as China "stealing" American jobs through its trade policies, or Mexican "sweatshops" undercutting US workers.

This may provide some hope for New Zealand exporters who have been anxiously waiting to see if they will face hefty tariffs on their shipments to the US - New Zealand's third-largest trading partner.

The NZ Institute of Economic Research's John Ballingall said that while it might be of some reassurance, it was yet another example of Trump's "inconsistent, vague and at times incoherent" trade policy.

"Perhaps he's realising now he's in the White House he can't say such inflammatory things around trade policy and foreign policy, that's the optimistic perspective.

"A more cynical perspective would be that he's gotten some advice from sensible, rational staff members that the things he's promoting are going to be damaging to the US and are therefore not particularly sensible policy positions in the early stages of your presidency."

Business consultant Stephen Jacobi said Trump's latest trade outline was something President Barack Obama could have written when he was elected eight years ago.

"I don't think it's either reassuring or worrying but nevertheless the candidate's previous comments still stand and we're going to have to wait and see what he's actually going to do, who he's going to put in place to advise him and how he behaves."