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Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

His pick to lead it has been a steady critic of China's trade policies.

President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday his plans to create a White House National Trade Council, according to his transition team.

Who will head this council? Peter Navarro. He’s a business professor at the University of California, Irvine who has written extensively on America’s trading relationship with China, which he thinks has been unhealthy due to unfriendly Chinese trade practices.

Headlines are calling him a “hawk.” Maybe so; in a 2010 book of essays from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), Navarro wrote:

America’s largest trading partner by the size of the trade imbalance, China, is engaging in the most massive campaign of mercantilism and protectionism ever witnessed.

Here’s what he said to the Los Angeles Times in August:

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, over 70,000 American factories have closed, the average median household income has actually fallen and we now owe trillions of dollars to China. [Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury and other securities were estimated at $1.8 trillion as of June 2015.] Fully half of our annual trade deficit in goods is with the biggest trade cheater on the planet. This is causality, not correlation.

He's not entirely wrong.

Here's what AAM President Scott Paul said of the announcement:

“The creation of the White House National Trade Council recognizes the link between these two issues and the importance of having a coherent and comprehensive strategy to strengthen our manufacturing sector.

"For too long, our trade policies haven't been focused on supporting our manufacturing sector but, in many ways, have undermined it.  This new council could be an important part of a strategy to make sure that America can compete and win."