Lamenting America’s role as more ‘Uncle Sucker’ than Uncle Sam, White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said on Sunday that the administration plans to take action to address issues with China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property (IP).
“China is a very bad actor when it comes to trade practices across a lot of things, but nothing’s more important in the near term than addressing the theft of our intellectual property and the forced technology transfer of our technologies,” Navarro told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding that “the president says that’s not going to happen anymore. He’s directed Amb. [Robert] Lighthizer … to come up with a plan that we will be releasing shortly to address that head on.”
After indicating in a tweet that China had been asked to create a plan to reduce its trade deficit with the U.S., which recently ballooned 16.7% to $36 billion in January, the highest since September 2015, President Trump said last week in a tweet that he planned to take action and put an end to IP theft.
“The U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft. We cannot allow this to happen as it has for many years!” he wrote.
Navarro, whose name is being floated as a replacement for White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who recently resigned from his position, explained that the U.S. technology industry in southern California could be impacted by trade deficits with China, as the country will “flush” Silicon Valley with American dollars.
“They buy those start-up companies that are on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence, robotics and everything we’re gonna need,” he said. “If we don’t have the industries of the future, we don’t have a future.”
Some analysts estimate that $1 billion in deficit will result in 6,000 jobs lost, according to Navarro, which when “you calculate what the impact of the Chinese deficit, that’s over 2 million jobs we export to them through the trade deficit.”
“We’ve been ‘Uncle Sucker’ … we have these large trade deficits simply because we’re an open market,” he added.
A key designer of the president’s “America First” economic strategy, Navarro said Trump’s recently-proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are designed to protect national security, despite threats of retaliation from the European Union. Last week, the European Union warned that it is ready to apply duties on approximately $2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) worth of American steel and other products such as peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.
"We can’t have a country, as the president said, without those industries [steel and aluminum] … All we’re looking for is fair and reciprocal trade and I think our allies at the end of the day will understand that all we’re doing here is defending two key industries so that we can come and help with their defense when they need us,” Navarro said.