U.S. newspaper Wall Street Journal published an editorial Tuesday, criticizing the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for his mercantilist view of trade.
“Steve Bannon may be gone from the White House, but his trade agenda survives in the form of Robert Lighthizer,” said the Journal. Lighthizer emphasized before the first round of negotiations of updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) last week that reducing U.S. trade deficits with Mexico and Canada was his priority.
“But what good is success for Mr. Lighthizer if it means failure for President Trump’s agenda of faster growth?” questioned the Journal. Economists have long argued that sudden changes of the current supply chains in North America would not only hurt Mexican companies but also American businesses.
Reducing trade deficits was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. The president, together with his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Lighthizer, has repeatedly chastised Mexico and China for stealing U.S. wealth and jobs through trade deficits.
“This bizarre economics is dangerous to American prosperity,” said the Journal in an editorial titled “Lighthizer’s Economics Deficit.”
The Trump administration also accused Mexico for stealing auto jobs from the U.S. and urged auto manufacturers like Toyota and Ford to move production lines back to the States. Toyota said in early August that it would move the production lines of its bestselling car Corolla from Mexico to the U.S. despite of additional costs.
Lighthizer also wanted to require auto manufacturers to use more U.S.-made auto parts in the renegotiations of NAFTA, hoping the move would save U.S. auto industry.
The suggestion was not only resisted by Mexico and Canada, but also opposed by U.S. auto manufacturers who worry the move could raise costs.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that free-trade access to labor and capital across North America is largely responsible for the survival of the U.S. auto industry,” said the Journal. Enditem