By Peter Barry Chowka
Exclusive to The Hagmann Report. Peter Navarro, the White House trade advisor, has been prominently in the news lately. Navarro has had a long career in public life. He has a Ph.D. in economics and taught for several decades at the university level. As a Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for elective office three times in San Diego in the 1990s. He emerged in 2016 as a policy advisor to the Trump campaign. On December 21, 2016, Navarro was selected by President-elect Trump to head a newly created position, as director of the White House National Trade Council.
Recently, in light of President Trump’s support for a tariff on imported steel and aluminum (a policy that Navarro strong supports), there is renewed attention on Navarro as a high-profile advisor and spokesperson for the Trump administration.
On Wednesday, March 7, Navarro was interviewed on the Fox Business Network on the program Making Money with Charles Payne (weeknights, 6-7PM ET). Shortly after the broadcast, a representative of the Fox Business Network provided a transcript and a video link.
CHARLES PAYNE, FBN HOST: White House officials telling Fox Business President Trump will impose tariffs tomorrow. I want to bring in Peter Navarro, White House National Trade Council Director. Peter, great seeing you.
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISOR: Hey, Charles, it’s been too long. I remember the last time we were on set was during the campaign.
PAYNE: I remember too, and ironically, you and I debated — we had a heated debate over this very topic. I pushed back against you. But I’ve got to tell you something, the more and more the establishment says you are nuts, the more all these elites on both sides of the aisle think that this is a bad idea, I’ve been thinking maybe Peter is on to something.
Explain to the audience, because they’ve been watching the same TV, and every time they turn on the TV, somebody says Navarro and President Trump are going down the wrong road with tariffs.
NAVARRO: Look, this is pretty simple in this case. We’ve got an aluminum and steel industry. The president quite clearly and correctly, we can’t have a country without those two industries. Fact of the matter of it, both of them are on life support; the aluminum industry, in particular. Since 2013, we’ve lost six smelters, we’ve only have five left and only two of them are operating at full capacity. We only have one that makes the high purity aluminum we need for our defense applications.
In another year or two or three if we don’t do anything, that’s going to be gone and we’re not going to be gone and we’re not going have a country. So, what this, this is something we’ve looked at for months, debated for months, and it’s a very measured approach. We’re going to have 25 percent tariffs on steel, 10 percent on aluminum.
Our good friend north and south of the border in Canada and Mexico are going to be given an opportunity to negotiate a fair trade deal for NAFTA, which would be a great bonus for what President Trump’s doing. If we get that, they won’t receive the tariffs. And we’re going to open this up for our allies to just see if we can — we can work through this problem. But tomorrow bottom line, going to be a good day for America.
PAYNE: So let me — help me flesh it out. If signed tomorrow, when does it become effective, is there wiggle room? Is there some sort of a time period where Canada and Mexico can negotiate themselves out of this without it ever taking effect?
NAVARRO: Yes, that’s built right in. We’re going to be we’ll be 3:30 in the oval office with a bunch of men and women from steel country and aluminum country coming in to see the president. We’ll be honored by that. He’ll sign the proclamations, and within 15-30 days, the tariffs go into effect.
The proclamation will have a clause that does not impose these tariffs immediately on Canada and Mexico and it’s going to give us an opportunity and one of the best guys in this administration, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer the opportunity to negotiate a great deal for this country. And if we get that, then all is good with Canada and Mexico.
PAYNE: let’s talk about NAFTA then, because we saw the trade deficit today. In fact, month over month, it increased 65 percent with our neighbors to the north. Yesterday we heard that Mexico’s automobile shipments to America up almost 10 percent.
You know, they’re certainly enjoying the fruits of NAFTA, and we don’t begrudge them for that, but how do we get them to really understand — and you know, sort of admit and make some — some changes here?
NAVARRO: Well, one of the beautiful things about President Donald J. Trump is talking about getting tough has already slowed down investment in Mexico in things like auto factories. Companies want to be here, not there. But we need a solid NAFTA negotiating agreement.
And look, both Mexico and Canada know the president is not messing around in this. If we get a good deal, that’s going be great for all three — three countries. But we can’t keep doing what we are doing. It’s draining this country dry. That, and all the other bad trade deals we have, and this president is going after every one of them.
PAYNE: Peter, does this mean economic nationalism is back?
NAVARRO: So, what it means is make America Great Again is here. And the president — by the way, the first 14 months in office, he has had the best 14 months of any president in modern history in terms of the economy. And he just doesn’t get any love for that. But it’s really an amazing thing. And I think this whole philosophy of restructuring our economy to focus on manufacturing, making things with our hands, taking care of our workers for a change. That’s not nationalism, that’s Americanism.
PAYNE: And I’ve got to tell you, the goods producing data we saw from ADP this week, and Since President Trump has been in office, beyond remarkable. Before — I know you have to hop, but I want to ask you something, because you and I, you know, we’ve talked a lot in the past. “The Washington Post” wrote that you’re enjoying your 15 minutes of fame.
They said you were demoted by John Kelly but you didn’t have anywhere else to go so you hung around and now of course, you’re being mentioned by name by people like Orrin Hatch. How does that make you feel personally, because I’ve got to tell you something, you and Wilbur Ross did stick around, and now you’re getting your agenda pushed through, which is what — by the way — what President Trump ran on.
NAVARRO: Look, I come to work every day it’s an honor and privilege to serve this great president. And my job every day is to help the president put men and women to work in high-paid jobs. That’s all I have done. I keep my head down, I stay on task. And right now, tomorrow is going to be a good day for America.
But my office works on a lot of things. We — we housed the “Buy America” plan and we’re doing a great job across the bureaucracies. And I’m doing great stuff with the help of the president and vice president on the defense industrial base. And someday we’ll talk about that, too.
PAYNE: Peter, anytime you want. Peter Navarro, thank you very much. Congratulations. I appreciate it.
NAVARRO: Good to talk to you.
Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran reporter and analyst of news on national politics, media, and popular culture. He is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and The Hagmann Report. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.