Peter Navarro, director of Trump’s White House Trade Council, named Australia and New Zealand as two nations with which the Trump administration will seek bilateral deals.
Australia already has a free trade agreement with the US, signed in 2004, but Trump has repeatedly said he will look at every trade deal the US has signed and renegotiate them if he can get a better deal for American workers.
Navarro, in an interview with FOX News in the US on Sunday, slammed Trump administration critics who argue the decision to pull America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and eight other nations will empower US trade rival China.
“They’d be right if we weren’t going to go right to Japan and Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Thailand and negotiate bilateral deals,” Navarro said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is holding out hope a TPP deal might still survive without the US.
Navarro however described the TPP as “flawed”, the “biggest bogus argument in the world” and absurd that the “kingdom of Brunei would have had the same vote” as the US.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Thursday in Los Angeles there has been no indication from the Trump administration their agreement would be renegotiated.
“The Australia-US free trade agreement works very much in the US favour in the sense that there is a significant trade surplus,” Bishop told reporters.
“We have a trade deficit with the US and there certainly has been no indication at all that the administration is looking to renegotiate the US-Australia free trade agreement.”
Navarro said “nobody in Asia wants to deal with China”.
“They’re afraid of China,” Navarro said.
“Right now China is bullying Taiwan, China is bullying Japan, China is using its economic power basically to have its way with the rest of that region and these countries that are subject to that – which is every country in that region – loves to be with America because we represent democracy, freedom, economic growth, prosperity and we don’t hold a gun to their head and try to make them do whatever we want to do.
“We reach out and say, ‘Hey, look let’s work together strategically economically’.”
Navarro said the TPP was flawed because it was a multi-lateral deal.
“That’s not what the Trump administration is going to do,” he said.
“The problem with multilateral deals is we reduce our bargaining power and surrender our sovereignty.
“In a TPP the kingdom of Brunei would have had the same vote as the United States of America.
“That’s absolutely absurd.”
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