Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross recently appeared on Fox News with Bret Baier to discuss the recent trade deal with the European Union.
The deal was a huge victory for the Trump administration as it offers more evidence to support the President’s claim that he would eliminate all tariffs, if only our trade partners would do the same.
Ross told Baier that the President hopes to continue to move towards true free trade with everyone, everywhere.
Bret Baier: We had the setup piece but not too many details. Where can you fill in the blanks about this trade deal with the E.U.?
Wilbur Ross: Well, I think there’s several very significant aspects. There were no preconditions to the negotiations, no requirement that we drop any of the 232 tariffs just to get talks to going. As you know that had been an original E.U. request. They came very prepared to do business. We came prepared to do business, and I think this really breaks the ground because it has now set the parameters. Everything is on the table.
Bret Baier: Yes. I’m talking zero tariffs possibly?
Wilbur Ross: Right. President made clear at the G7, although as you remember nobody paid any attention, that his end game is zero tariffs, zero non trade — non tariff trade barriers, zero subsidies and zero barriers to our market access – so four big zeros.
Bret Baier: Yes. He also specifically talked about soybeans and also industrial products.
Wilbur Ross: Right. Well it’s more than soy beans. All agricultural products are something that will be discussed. Soybeans was simply a very timely example of those.
More on trade from Ross:
Bret Baier: That there have to be other things to do. I mean, are you thinking of other things while you’re in this battle with China?
Wilbur Ross: Well, surely. One — one very good example is the arrangements we started to make today with the E.U., because it’s not only China that has put in retaliatory tariffs, it’s also E.U., in addition, Mexico. Mexico’s a very big importer of agricultural goods, and —
Bret Baier: So is the NAFTA deal almost wrapped up?
Wilbur Ross: Well, we — I wouldn’t say almost wrapped up, but it’s coming along very, very well. We hope that could be within the next couple of months. The new president is engaging. He’s picked his team, there’s an overlap with the former administration’s team, he’s indicated he’s broadly on board with what’s been done thus far and is looking forward to closing the last few gaps.
Bret Baier: You know, the president asked for patience the other day, and there are lawmakers up there who are getting a little impatient and they — they are not sure of the strategy here. If you were to lay it out in a blueprint for people sitting at home, what is it?
Wilbur Ross: Well the strategy is this, it took us since World War II to get to the current unfortunate trade deficit. Right after World War II, American public policy was rebuild Europe, rebuild Asia, partly with Marshall Plan and things like that, but also partly with unilateral trade concessions. Those were good then, but should have been time limited.
Concessions that we made that were appropriate to Germany, to Japan, to China in 1950 are no longer appropriate, because they’re no longer small, struggling economies; they’re now world powerhouses, particularly in export.
So it’s a lot of history that we have to deal with. What we now need is to lower the barriers that they were permitted to erect relative to us, get market access, which is really what the farmers want and what our manufacturers want, get market access, get rid of these artificial trade barriers, and get rid of the tariffs.
E.U. tariffs average over 10 percent on farm products and they have a lot of non-science based standards that preclude our products coming in.
Bret Baier: China, it seems, deals within a different calendar. Are you going to be able to wait them out and pressure them enough while feeling some of this pain, and some of these states — and many of them are targeted because they’re Republican swing states that could mean the difference to control of Congress?
Wilbur Ross: Well sure, the Chinese have done a very, very good job figuring out the political map and how to target it. But you look at their recent announcements, confusions of capital into the (ph) banks, the lowering reserve requirement, letting their currency drift downward; they’re feeling pain themselves.
They’re also finding it not so easy to substitute for all of our farm products. You’ll — you’re going to see once they run out of the soybeans that they artificially built up, they can’t just get all the beans from Brazil. And here’s why: Brazil is 55 percent of the beans they buy, we’re 33 percent. For Brazil to replace us, they would have to increase their exports to China by 16 (ph) percent.
Well guess what? If Brazil could have done it, that much an increase at a economical price, they already would have done it. They didn’t have to wait for this conflict. So they’re finding it not so simple to deal with their own retaliation.
Bret Baier: But you’re calling today a win.
Wilbur Ross: I think today is a win both for the E.U. and for the United States, because our objective is zero tariffs, zero trade barriers, zero subsidies, zero restriction on market access. We think the E.U. now is interested in the same direction.
More from Ross on the trade deal:
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