Trump’s Tariffs Said to ‘Fulfill His Campaign Promises’ to Put ‘America First’

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defends president's decision to boost U.S. steel, aluminum industries in bid for fair trade deals

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 05 Mar 2018 at 12:40 PM

President Donald Trump’s new steel and aluminum tariffs are being imposed because he wants to “fulfill his campaign promises to the American people and defend American workers,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on the “Fox News Sunday” television program.

Director of the White House National Trade Council, Navarro praised Trump’s decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum — an action immediately met with outrage from U.S. trading partners and concern from U.S. lawmakers.

Navarro, who also advises Trump on trade and industrial policy, dismissed those worries, however, and emphasized that Trump defeated his political opponents in the 2016 presidential election because of his “America First” policies.

“In terms of the Republican Party, let’s remember this: Donald Trump ran against 16 Republicans. None of those Republicans supported Donald Trump’s positions on trade. He beat every one of them,” he said. “And then Donald Trump went on [against] a Democratic opponent who didn’t support his positions on trade, and he beat [her], too.”

“What Donald Trump wants to do is fulfill his campaign promises to the American people and defend American workers,” Navarro continued. “The reason why the president is doing this is because if he doesn’t do this, we will lose our … aluminum industry very quickly, and our steel industry very quickly thereafter.”

The trade adviser said the White House’s mission is “to defend our steel and aluminum industries so that they survive.” Noting that the U.S. has been one of the most pro-free trade nations in the world, Navarro said it is time for the country to reinvent itself as a pro-fair trade country that protects U.S. workers and industries above all others.

“We are the free trading-est [sic] nation in the world. And what do we get for that? We don’t get fair and reciprocal trade. We get every year a half-a-trillion-dollar trade deficit that transfers our wealth to other countries and basically ‘offshores’ our jobs and our factories,” Navarro said. “And all we are asking for is fair and reciprocal trade.”

“All the president is doing — he’s been saying this for two years now, actually for 20 … America first. We want [a] fair deal. We want reciprocal trade.”

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace pointed to concerns among American lawmakers in both parties that the proposed tariffs would raise prices on products for American consumers. Navarro insisted that the "downstream price effects on our industries" due to the tariffs would be "insignificant."

"And the mission here is to preserve our steel and aluminum industries for national security and economic security," Navarro said.

Related: 'We're Going to Find More Jobs' if We Renegotiate Deal, Says U.S. Trade Rep

When asked if some of the United States' key allies would be exempt from the tariffs, Navarro said he expects no exceptions.

"As soon as [Trump] starts exempting countries, he has to raise the tariffs on everybody else," he said. "What we need to do here is keep the rhetoric down. It would be helpful if the media didn't have all these crazy headlines about trade wars and just [looked] at the facts."

Related: 'Without Steel and Aluminum, Your Country's Not the Same'

During an appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," Navarro also said, "What I love about this president is he listens to all points of view, both within his government and outside, and then he makes the tough decisions."

"And in this case, he made the decision to go with 25 percent tariffs on steel, 10 percent on aluminum, across the board with no country exclusions," he said. "This is a measured, targeted approach."

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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