In a major speech dealing with the economy on Tuesday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pitched a protectionist message, vowing to opt out of trade agreements such as NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and pledging to impose tariffs on imported goods that in his opinion could be made in America.
A front page story in this morning’s Washington Post summarizes Trump’s positions, which appear to be out of step with traditional Republican policies:
Trump has long blamed broad trade agreements for harming U.S. workers. But this week has marked a rhetorical shift as he aggressively casts members of both parties who have supported trade deals as anti-American and in league with “special interests.” For many Republicans in particular, the rhetoric amounts to an assault on core ideological beliefs that have undergirded conservative economic policy for generations.
Trump has repeatedly blamed outsourcing and big trade agreements for domestic economic decline. He has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA as president and withdraw the United States from TPP — promises many experts in both parties call unrealistic and highly risky.
While Trump insists he is not trying to challenge free-trade principles, he has repeatedly argued that it is more important for the United States to have “fair trade” agreements. He has said that he would prefer to negotiate deals one-on-one with countries rather than enter into multi-national settlements.
According to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, the Peach State ranks 11th in the country for exports, and 7th for imports. The ports of Savannah and Brunswick are a significant part of the state’s economy and directly or indirectly provide almost 400,000 jobs across the state.
At a press availability last week, Governor Deal was asked if he was concerned about Trump’s proposed trade policies, and whether they might hurt Georgia’s economy.
“I haven’t heard anything that would indicate that to me,” Deal said. “What I think [Trump] is really saying in the broader context of things is that we need fair trade. We need trade agreements that once they are signed and entered into are actually enforced.” The governor noted that the United States enters into broad trade agreements, yet no one appears to look at the terms and conditions of those agreements, and ensure their provisions are enforced.
“I think it is appropriate at the federal level that we have broad discussions about our trade policies in terms of opening up trade,” Deal said, noting that when he served in Congress, he voted in favor of free trade agreements. “We have a state interest in making sure our trade agreements work fairly.”