Donald Trump

Trump talk of punitive tariffs a bargaining chip

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 4:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 December, 2016, 4:06am

President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to raise tariffs on imports is a bargaining chip for better trade deals, a member of his transition team said.

“The administration believes in free, fair trade,” Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the presidential transition team’s executive committee, said Thursday. “However, if we’re going to get some contention related to trying to make those deals fairer, so that our goods and services can leave the United States in the same proportion that they’re coming in, then the cudgel of a tariff is something that we on the administration side would be willing to impose as a sort of negotiating chip.”

“But we want to start with carrots,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television anchor Amanda Lang. “I want to make sure that that’s very clear to everybody.”

Scaramucci’s comments come as some of Trump’s top advisers and cabinet picks try to ease concerns that his policies to revive domestic manufacturing and protect American jobs will spark a trade war. Trump’s threats to hike tariffs on Chinese products and build a wall on the border with Mexico have contributed to a sell-off of emerging-market currencies since he unexpectedly won the November 8 presidential election.

But rather than trying to restrict trade, the incoming administration instead will push to renegotiate deals that have contributed to a loss of American jobs, said Scaramucci, who founded investment firm SkyBridge Capital LLC.

“We’re looking for more commerce as opposed to less commerce, which will lead to global growth,” he said. “We want things to work out, to use a Trumpian expression, terrifically -- or better than terrifically.”

Scaramucci spoke just minutes before Trump reiterated his pledge to build a border wall and criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement as unfair to U.S. workers. The president-elect was speaking at a factory in Indiana where he convinced the top executive of United Technologies Corp. not to ship American jobs to Mexico.

Asked about news reports that United Technologies received $7 million in tax breaks to keep its Carrier factory running in the state, Scaramucci said the negotiation was still a good deal for the U.S. economy.

“You’re maybe losing $7 million up front, but you’re going to create all these positive economic rents and externalities as a result of the deal,” he said. “It’s going to be a very good thing for everybody.”