In major trade speech, Donald Trump vows to follow Britain and declare economic independence for America

Trump threatens to unravel Nafta and ditch Trans-Pacific deal in pitch to blue collar America

David Usborne
New York
Tuesday 28 June 2016 20:10
Donald Trump outlines trade approach in Pennsylvania
Donald Trump outlines trade approach in Pennsylvania

Donald Trump is tying his pitch to reverse globalisation and scrap or re-negotiate America’s free trade agreements with the vote by British voters to leave the European Union.

And he is claiming that the support that Hillary Clinton, his almost certain rival in the race for the White House, and President Barack Obama expressed for the Remain campaign demonstrates they are out of touch with the people and beholden to the corporate elite.

“I want you to imagine how much better our future can be if we declare independence from the elites who've led us to one financial and foreign policy disaster after another,” Mr Trump declared in a speech about economic and trade policy outside Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

“Our friends in Britain recently voted to take back control of their economy, politics and borders,” he said. “I was on the right side of that issue, as you know, with the people - I was there, I said it was going to happen, I felt it - while Hillary, as always, stood with the elites, and both she and president Obama predicted that one wrong.”

Read from a teleprompter - with a few improvisations for emphasis along the way - the speech was an attempt by the Trump campaign to broaden support among blue-collar voters in the American rustbelt. He delivered it against a backdrop of metal scrap, a reminder of western Pennsylvania’s once-proud steel industry.

It was a message that has long been at the core of Mr Trump’s electoral appeal, tapping into deep unease among many American voters about their economic futures. And it chimes precisely with his campaign slogan of making America “great again”.

He vowed to walk away from the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership, TPP, a sweeping trade treaty that promises to lower trade barriers between 12 nations in the Americas and Asia, warning it would be “the death blow for American manufacturing”, and demand a radical renegotiation of NAFTA, that binds the US with Mexico and Canada.

If there is no renegotiation, he would withdraw from that treaty also, he said. And he pledged to stand up to China, which he variously accused of currency manipulation, unfair subsidy behaviour and theft of trade secrets.

“America will be independent once more, independent once more. Doesn’t that sound great?” Mr Trump asked a warmly applauding audience, vowing that when he has been made President, “we will have four and maybe eight really, really productive years.”

“Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalisation - moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas,” Mr Trump complained. “Globalisation has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very wealthy. But it has left millions of our workers with nothing but poverty and heartache.”

However, the message was dented when earlier on Tuesday, the leader of the country’s biggest trades union accused him of shedding, “crocodile tears about lost jobs and shuttered factories”.

“Trump embodies everything that is wrong with our current trade policy. He has consistently sent American jobs overseas to line his own pockets,” Richard Trumka, the President of the AFL-CIO said, referring to Trump-branded products such as suits and ties that are made abroad.

Mr Trump accused Ms Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for what he called the twin-disasters of NAFTA, signed during the first Clinton White House, and the agreement that allowed China to join the World Trade Organisation, WTO.

“NAFTA was the worst trade deal in history, and China's entrance into the World Trade Organization has enabled the greatest jobs theft in history,” he said. “It was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA in 1993, and Hillary Clinton who supported it. It was also Bill Clinton who lobbied for China's disastrous entry into the World Trade Organisation.”

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