As President Trump takes the axe to regulations including Dodd-Frank and Obamacare, the nation’s top business leaders are encouraged a policy refresh will get the U.S. economy growing again. However, they are not encouraged by his plans on trade, which include ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which Trump has described as "catastrophic" for the U.S.
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In a First on FOX Business interview with Maria Bartiromo, White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, addressed those concerns.
“No one wants to see a trade a war, but we do want to see as the President said, we want to see a free and fair trade policy,” he said noting that the Trump administration understands the importance of trade to the economy, but it must be conducted in a fair and level playing field.
Along with NAFTA, Trump has also hammered the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which is dead in the water, taking the opposite position of many corporate leaders. In an interview on FOX Business last month, commenting on TPP, FedEx CEO Fred Smith (FDX) said, “The United States being cut off from trade would be like trying to breathe without oxygen. It’s an essential part of our economy.”
Despite the divide, Trump is not backing down on overhauling trade. “I want to change it. And maybe we do a new NAFTA and we put an extra "F" in the term NAFTA. You know what the "F" is for, right? Free and fair trade - not just free trade; free and fair trade, because it's very unfair," Trump said yesterday.
Trade is one of the many issues Trump’s team will discuss with business leaders on Friday. CEOs meeting at the White House on Friday include JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon (JPM), Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX (TSLA).