Washington – US president-elect Donald Trump, who has vowed to cancel or renegotiate multiple international trade agreements, will establish a new trade council inside the White House, his transition team said Wednesday.
The White House National Trade Council, which will mimic existing White House structures to advise and manage policies on national security, homeland security and the economy, will be headed by China hawk Peter Navarro, the transition office said.
Navarro, co-author of the 2011 book “Death by China: Confronting the Dragon – A Global Call to Action,” is an economics professor and past Democratic candidate for Congress from California. He was a campaign advisor on economic issues to Trump, who was the Republican presidential nominee.
Separately, Trump named investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday to an informal role as “special advisor” on regulatory reform. The unpaid job is aimed at helping “shed job-killing regulations that stifle economic growth,” the transition team said.
Trump’s transition team said that the trade council will advise Trump on trade negotiation strategies, coordinate with federal agencies and lead the president-elect’s “Buy America, Hire America” programme for government spending.
“For the first time, there will be a council within the White House that puts American manufacturing and American workers first, and that thinks strategically about the health of America’s defence-industrial base and the role of trade and manufacturing in national security,” the transition office said.
The establishment of the trade council “demonstrates the president-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again and to provide every American the opportunity to work in a decent job at a decent wage,” the transition team said in a statement.
Navarro, a professor at the University of California-Irvine who holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard, is an outspoken critic of the Chinese government. He will serve as assistant to the president and director of trade and industrial policy, which does not require Senate confirmation.
“I read one of Peter’s books on America’s trade problems years ago and was impressed by the clarity of his arguments and thoroughness of his research,” Trump said. “He has presciently documented the harms inflicted by globalism on American workers, and laid out a path forward to restore our middle class. He will fulfill an essential role in my administration as a trade advisor.”
Navarro co-wrote a report in September on Trump’s economic plan with business magnate Wilbur Ross, who has been named as commerce secretary.