Trump outlines plans for trade and the US economy

By Ylan Q. Mui

President Donald Trump's priorities for the dramatic economic transformation that he promised on the campaign trail began to take shape just minutes after he was sworn in Friday, with the new administration outlining its plans on the revamped White House website.

Rewriting the nation's trade deals underpins much of Trump's economic agenda, echoing the protectionist undercurrents in Trump's inaugural address that emphasized the primacy of American interests.

Trade is mentioned as a critical component of economic growth, job creation and foreign policy.

On its website, the administration committed to pulling out of the TransPacific Partnership, a sweeping trade deal with 11 other nations along the Pacific Rim that has been fiercely criticized by both parties. It also vowed to renegotiate the nation's long-standing free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada -- or withdraw from it altogether.

The proposals also promises "fair but tough" trade deals and emphasized that the administration would "use every tool at the federal government's disposal" to crack down on violations of existing agreements.

The aggressive rhetoric highlights an emerging rift within the Republican party, which has long advocated the benefits of free markets and championed globalization.

But with his focus on "rusted out factories" during his first speech as president, Trump made clear that he sees fulfilling his pledge to revive US manufacturing as a top priority.

"This American carnage stops right here and stops right now," he said.

Notably absent from the new White House website, however, is any mention of the Chinese yuan. Trump had vowed during the campaign to instruct Treasury to label China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office, a pugnacious move that could spark retaliation from Beijing.

Trump often blamed China for the woes of the manufacturing industry, but no country is singled out on the new White House website.

We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
Donald Trump, US President

The new agenda sets an overarching goal of creating 25 million new jobs over the next decade and boosting economic growth to 4 per cent, according to the website, committing to statistics that were staples of his stump speeches. That is significantly lower than the 5 or 6 per cent growth that the president had repeatedly floated during the election.

The most recent data available show the economy expanded at a 3.5 per cent rate during the third quarter of 2016.

Many experts doubt whether Trump can achieve his targets, given the retirement of the baby boomers, the administration's plans to restrict immigration and changes in technology. His pick to lead the Treasury Department, Steven Mnuchin, moderated expectations during his confirmation hearing Thursday, promising only 3 to 4 per cent growth.

The site highlights tax code reform and regulatory rollback as two of the chief drivers of growth in the Trump administration.

The White House pledged to slash corporate taxes, simplify the tax code and "lower rates for Americans in every tax bracket." That proposal is at odds with previous statements by Mnuchin promising no "absolute tax cut" for wealthy households.

The economic proposals on the website also do not include a campaign plan to incentivize $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. However, Trump spoke in broad terms about the importance of infrastructure in his inaugural speech.

"We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation," he said. "We will get our people off of welfare and back to work - rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor."

- Washington Post

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