WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump will not revive his predecessor’s stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in any form, but will quickly pursue bilateral trade agreements, a Trump transition policy adviser said.
“TPP is dead. I cannot stress that more strongly,” said the adviser, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly for the administration that takes office on Jan. 20.
“TPP, or a multilateral agreement that looks like TPP but is called something else, is emphatically dead.”
On Wednesday, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said he was not opposed to President Barack Obama’s 12-country Pacific Rim trade deal but shared some of Trump’s views “on whether the agreement that was negotiated serves all of America’s interests at best.”
Speaking by phone late on Thursday, the Trump adviser said Tillerson was expressing some personal views on free trade theory. The adviser said the administration was not going to pursue multilateral trade deals.
“You will be shocked by the speed at which bilateral agreements begin to materialize,” the adviser said.
Britain has expressed strong interest in a bilateral trade deal with the United States once it exits the European Union.
Official spokespeople for the Trump transition team did not respond to Reuters’ requests for further comment.
The adviser said he would not rule out declaring China a currency manipulator or levying tariffs on Chinese goods as a means of reducing massive U.S. trade deficits with China. He declined to speculate how quickly a currency designation could come, adding that the issue needed further review.
The Trump policy adviser said the new administration is determined to reverse years of Chinese trade practices that have “hollowed out” the U.S. manufacturing base.
“You have to understand the view of this administration that China is essentially perpetrating an economic war, they’re already engaged in a trade war against us,” the adviser said.
Reporting by David Lawder, Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Howard Goller