US President-elect Donald Trump has created a new trade body within the White House that would report directly to him and roped in an economist and a billionaire – both known for their anti-China stance – for his economic team. The formation of the White House National Trade Council further demonstrates Trump’s determination to make American manufacturing “great” again and to provide every American the opportunity to work in a decent job at a decent wage, the presidential transition team said.
The council would be headed by economist and University of California-Irvin Professor Peter Navarro, who would serve as Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, the team said in a statement.
“Navarro is a visionary economist and will develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth, and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores,” it said, adding that he has been instrumental in challenging the prevailing Washington orthodoxy on so-called free trade.
According to the transition team, the mission of the National Trade Council will be to advise the President on innovative strategies in trade negotiations, coordinate with other agencies to assess US manufacturing capabilities and the defence industrial base, and help match unemployed American workers with new opportunities in the skilled manufacturing sector.
Later in the day, Trump announced to appoint billionaire investor Carl Icahn to serve as special advisor on issues related to regulatory reform. Icahn was one of Trump’s earliest supporters, and his intimate knowledge of what businesses need to grow and thrive makes him a trusted voice in developing President-elect’s ‘America First’ economic agenda, the media statement said.
“Icahn will be a leader in helping American entrepreneurs shed job-killing regulations that stifle economic growth,” it said. In a report, The Wall Street said the announcements “offer clues about how Trump will attempt to flesh out his distinct economic agenda that fuses traditional Republican principles of lower taxes and regulation” with a more populist approach on trade, immigration and manufacturing.
The Democratic National Committee deputy communications director Eric Walker alleged that this is a quid-pro-quo 25 years in the making. “In the early 1990s, Icahn came to Trump’s rescue as his casino business was failing. Today, Trump made Icahn the regulatory czar of his administration,” he said.
“The corrupt nature of this arrangement cannot be understated. Voters who wanted Trump to drain the swamp just got another face full of mud,” he added.