tv U.S. Trade Representative Discusses Trump Administration Priorities CSPAN September 24, 2017 2:12am-3:01am EDT
exposure self to different ideas and pursuits. two ideas you disagree. you know, follow people on twitter you disagree with. engage with ideas they get you out of your comfort zone. in europe and at co-chamber because you may find that there is a whole different world that you are interested in either to engage with more, to come back to fight against, or refine your own thinking. so be open to different possibilities. do not think there is only one tract that is only what is what is great, you can find out all of those things now. host: with that wonderful answer, i am left with two more tasks. the first is to give you a very small token of our appreciation and i imagine that, you know, when you wake up in the morning and you turn on whether it is
joe or wouldrning every watch and you see some of your successors whether it be h.r. mcmaster's or tom foster dealing with questions and getting hammered by the press and choosing between least bad options that you have a nice big cup of coffee and you say to yourself, i am glad that is not me. in so when you're having one of those cups of coffee i hope you will remember us from the duke sanford counterterrorism program our coffee travel mug and my second duty is to ask all of you to think lisa monica for inviting us this evening. [applause] host: thank you. >> thank you.
announcer: sunday night on "af terwords," "notes on from abroad." >> there is a big question, why had i never thought this was a form of propaganda? where was this conflict coming from and what was the job it was doing for individual americans and i think that, you know, one thing i realized that took me a long time to realize in fact was that the very language we use when we talk about a foreign country had been kind of
determined for us a very long time ago because we tended to look at muslim countries in the east as where they catching up with us or were they behind us you from beingts able to see the country on its own terms. night on: watch sunday cspan2's booktv. >> now, u.s. trade representative robert lighthizer talks about the trump administration's trade philosophy, the status of the talks, and trade organizations. >> good morning everybody.
we are delighted to have you here. a wonderful way to start our monday. an active intellectual program. we are very delighted to have ambassador lighthizer here today. he is working on issues that are more topical than any i can recall in the last 15 years which accounts why so many people want to beer. he can so many people are here i know everybody is going to want to have questions. a question, fill out the card you got when you came in and that way we can make sure we don't get lectures and people ask questions. that is one of the advantages. we are able to get a broader diversity of questions. so when you have a card filled out with a question, lift it up. we will have runners to pick them up from you. scott miller will make sure we get the best and most questions to the table as possible. i am responsible for everybody here. if something happens, i will ask you to follow me.
first i will take care of the ambassador, but i will come back to you. i am responsible for the safety of everyone here. i will first take care of the ambassador but i would come back for everyone. right behind me are the exit doors, the stairs that go down to the streets are closest to this one. take two left-hand turns and go across to the national geographic and we will get ice cream and celebrate our survival. we're going to be just fine. you follow my instructions if i have to ask you to do something. i am not confident to introduce the u.s. labor representative but fortunately i have two that are. one is bill brock.
senator brock, chairman of the republican national committee, i think he has headed five or six commissions on education. it was through his office that he was able to enlist representative robert lighthizer to join us. please welcome senator brock. sen. brock: good morning. i want to remind john that there are two other ambassadors to take care of, in case something happens. i was privileged to hold this trade job a long time ago, and i did love it. and i used to say that economics, economic policy can have more to do with the piece and stability of the world than all the diplomats in the world. there is a fundamental truth to that, and the strength of this country in economic terms is the source of our strength envision -- in addition to what i think is our moral strength. the fun of being u.s. trade as
open up are trying to lot of doors and particularly in the area of services, intellectual operative, invest. we were doing some free trade agreements with israel and canada, and when you are in that field you work with the congress or does not get done. i had a terrific relationship with russell long, lloyd bentsen, bob dole. and, i had a terrific opportunity to work with the staff director and chief counsel of the senate finance to many. he was given the
opportunity by resident reagan in this case to become the was a combination of people that had worked together and i think i was very comfortable with that and the thing that made me comfortable about this nomination of bob this year was that having worked with him i learned what an extra nearly intelligent, thoughtful, and caring person he is and frankly, i had watched when he was working with us at the u.s. cr and through dozens of why laterals if i remember, a whole bunch of them, so having him background, that experience, senate finance, ustr, leads me to considerable
comfort in the fact that he knows the rules and he knows that the rules work. that's important in today's world, there has to be some pattern. some consistency. so when you talk about world trade urbanization or u.s. trade , the different sections of trade policy, understanding them and employing them productively is a fundamentally important part of the job of the u.s. trade rep. so it is with a great deal of pleasure that i want 10 to do somebody for whom i have a lot of respect, bob lighthizer. please. [applause]
lighthizer: thank you, senator. this thing with guests, friends, first, when i was asked to do this by senator brock, it is not one of those things you can say no to. one of the things that i was reminded of was very early on, when we worked together, so i'm going from the staff director of the senate finance committee to work for senator brock, and we are taking our first trip together and i am a newly minted ambassador, and proud of myself, and in those days, you had to fly from here to new york, into paris. on the first leg of the trip, i am sitting next to the senator and i say i know i am missing something. what could it be?
passport. my [laughter] lighthizer: so, i am a ambassador flying with my boss from the cabinet and i don't have my passport. about halfway through, i lean over and say senator, i've forgot something. he was cool, he said it's not a problem. he makes a couple calls. i fly to paris with him and somebody brings my passport the next day and i come by and talk to his secretary at the time. i say, i feel like such a jerk, i forgot my passport. -- he forgot his
three times. [laughter] lighthizer: that is one of those things that you remember, when it happens to you. now i have people who tell me, do you have your passport? i have been blessed in my life by having some great mentors, and none greater than senator dole and senator brock. a great friend and a great teacher, an extraordinary career. you almost don't know what title that you have not had, legitimately. something people generally don't know is he is a bit of a insurgent. he challenges orthodoxy. when he ran for congress and the senate, he ran more as an insurgent. he was not part of the establishment. he was, i think of it as a or 1970's of a 1960's
tea party machine. he took on the baker machine and beat it, and didn't you? at the rnc, there were a number of things that work controversial. not the least about was going to detroit for the national convention. not the most has double place but it turned out to be a great success. at ustr, he did a great job of balancing our international obligations and moving the trade system forward but also defending american industry. we end up with the reagan trade policy which is insisting that we get fair treatment on motorcycles and steel, especially steel and semiconductors and automobiles. my own view is the reason these japanese companies originally moved to the united states was because of president reagan and senator brock and the policy they put in place. when i do things that are
kind of challenging the orthodoxy, you know where it is coming from. it is coming from my mentor, and he should get all the blame. because i developed that -- people who know me know that i'm a bit of a contrarian. let me just make a few points and then take some questions. of course, these are very interesting times for trade. for decades, support for what we call free trade has been eroding among the electorate. there has been a growing feeling that the system that has developed in recent years is not quite fair to american workers and manufacturing and that we need to change.
in 2016, both major parties ran candidates who, to one degree or another, were trade skeptics. on the democratic side, we had senator sanders, who campaigned hard on this issue. their ultimate candidate, secretary clinton, who did not espouse the trade views of her husband or for that matter, her boss when she was secretary of state. she professed some degree of trade skepticism. on our side, the views of president trump are well-known. politicians can be accused of changing to populist positions to get votes, this cannot be said of the president. if you go back 20 or 30 years, you see a remarkable consistency. he has been critical of the prevailing u.s. trade policy, of so-called free trade deals and their effects on workers.
we will have change in trade policy. let's talk about our philosophy. i know that many sincerely believe that the prevailing world trade policy has been great for america, and that those who complain are people who are victims of economic progress. these analysts think that whole problem is one of getting the correct message through. not a policy direction issue, but a failure to communicate. they believe that the voters are ill-informed or in some cases perhaps ignorant. if they only understood, they would support these trade agreements and all the rest. most of you know that i am not in that group. i agree with the president, and i believe that americans can compete successfully with anyone in the world if the conditions are fair, not in all sectors,
but in most. i believe, like many of you, that removing market distortions, encouraging fair competition, and letting markets determine economic outcomes leads to greater efficiency and a larger production of wealth both here and abroad. i'm sure most also agree that many markets are not free or fair. governments try to determine outcomes through subsidies, closing markets, regulatory restrictions and multiple similar strategies. the real policy difference, i submit, is not over whether we want efficient markets, but how do we get them. what is the best thing to do in the face of market distortions to arrive at free and fair competition? i believe and the president believes that we must be proactive.
the years of talking about these problems has not worked, and we must use all instruments we have to make it expensive to engage in noneconomic behavior and to convince our trading partners to treat our workers, farmers, and ranchers fairly. we must demand reciprocity in home and in international markets. expect change, new approaches, and expect action. second, the president believes and i agree, that trade deficits matter.
one can argue that too much emphasis can be put on specific bilateral deficits, but i think it is reasonable to ask when faced with decades of large deficits, globally and with most countries in the world, whether the rules of trade are causing part of the problem. i agree that tax rates, regulations and other macroeconomic factors have a large part in forming these numbers. the president is tackling these issues, but i submit the rules of trade also matter and that they can determine outcomes. in a simple example, how can one argue that it makes little difference when we have a 2.5% tariff on automobiles and other developed countries have a 10% tariff? that it is inconsequential when
these same countries border-adjust their taxes and we do not, or that it is unimportant when some countries undervalue their currencies? is it fair for us to pay higher tariffs to export the same product that they pay to sell here? i believe there is one challenge on the current scene. it is substantially more difficult than those faced in the past, and that is china. the sheer scale of their coordinated efforts to subsidize, create national champions, to force technology transfer, and to distort markets in china and throughout the world is a threat to the world trading system that is unprecedented. unfortunately, the wto is not equipped to deal with this problem. the wto and its predecessor, the general agreement on tariffs and trade, were not designed to successfully manage mercantilism on this scale. we must find other ways to defend our companies, workers, farmers and our economic system.
we must find new ways to ensure that a market-based economy prevails. fourth, we are looking at all of our trade agreements to determine if they are working to our benefit. the basic notion in a free trade agreement is that one grants preferential treatment to a trading partner in return for an approximately equal amount of preferential treatment in their market. the object is to increase efficiency and create wealth. it is reasonable to ask after a period of time whether what we received and what we paid were roughly equivalent.
one measure is change in trade deficits. where the numbers and other factors indicate a disequilibrium, one should renegotiate. we had an election. no one really ran on maintaining the status quo in trade. president trump won. we have a different philosophy and there will be change. i look forward to working with many of you in this room on these issues as things develop, and to returning from time to time to talk about progress as we move forward. i look forward to answering your questions. [applause] >> good morning and let me add my welcome to all of you in the auditorium and online. i am the senior advisor and we are delighted to have you here. this is without question, the largest, most interesting crowd
i have seen, which says to me it would be a good career move to do more with senator brock. amb. lighthizer: it did work for me. [laughter] amb. lighthizer: it did work for me. scott: the ambassador has given us an amount of time to interact with questions. because of the large crowd and the short time, i would ask each of you, if you have a question, write it on a card and pass it to the center aisle. get it to the outside. staff will pick it up and we look at the questions up here. i will put my reading glasses on and let you know there is some preferential treatment given to readable print. i gave senator brock the first question. he had a question about trade agreements. it struck he and others as unusual that given businesses
prefer to have a stable, predictable environment and certainly in tax law and regulation, most businesses asked for a stable period of time under which to operate. how does the provision of a sunset provision work? what can you tell us about it as a tool? amb. lighthizer: first of all, i am not going to talk about any provisions that may be in this agreement. in context of the nafta agreement, i will have to opt to answer that privately. scott: let's ask a broader question. you were in office during the reagan administration. between now and then, a lot of changes in trade policy. as you take office after an
absence in private practice, what is the most important changes to the u.s. economy and the most important changes to trade policy that affect your day? amb lighthizer: in the first place, the whole economy is totally different. when i was working for senator brock, i don't think we had cell phones. so when we got off the plane in new york, you had to find a place to put a quarter in and make a phone call. there was no digital economy. the economy was very different. the other thing that i would say is that we were focused on a mercantilist policy from japan that we had to worry about and i think now, it is on a scale,
multiples of that with china. interestingly, i have the japanese come in and meet with me, and they say we have to do something about this mercantilism from china. they are very worried about it. that is the principal challenge we face, is how do we deal with china in a global trading system. how do we deal with china in a system where we want market efficiency to dictate? there are other challenges we have. trade agreements we don't think have worked out in our interest, we have to create rules that work well for services and the digital economy. the biggest challenge we face right now, the biggest difference between now and those days was the appearance of china. scott: let me follow with a question on the trump trade policy for asia. since the reagan era, there has been a key focus.
a key focus on a rising asia. u.s. firmsny because it is the heart of the middle class writ largey. soon after bush bush number one, you would say it was -- the clinton administration focused on china in the wto. the bush 43 administration did trade agreements with singapore, australia, key allies. the obama administration worked a lot on the transpacific partnership. what is your thought about the trump policy toward a rising asia? amb. lighthizer: in the first place, we prefer bilateral trade agreements to multilateral trade agreements.
the working assumption is that if you have a $18 trillion economy, you can do better at -- negotiating, individually. not only can you negotiate better agreements, and you can enforce them, more easily because usually in a multilateral agreement, it is difficult to enforce the agreements because you are disrupting too many things. thinkilateral agreement i policy i think to engage the countries in that region on bilateral agreements. we have to determine when we are going to do it and what the order will be. this administration wants to stay very much engaged in asia, and we expect to do that. scott: while we are the subject
of bilateral, they one has gotten a lot of attention since prime minister may visited the white house, is the possiblity for a united states/u.k. bilateral fta. obviously, the u.k. has to work out some aspects of their article 50. that will take some period of time. years -- butwo probably longer. what are your views on the bilateral with the u.k.? how do you expect that to play out? amb. lighthizer: i have met with dr. fox and talked about these issues. at the appropriate time, i think the united states will enter in agreement with the u.k. i am confident they will come to you know,nt that is,
parties.l to both i think they will come to an agreement that is beneficial to both parties. that is probably a year or two off. even the deadline -- when it is going to happen is not clear, but we have had meetings. we talked about how we will proceed. it is something that is on the horizon, that the governments have spoken about. at the appropriate time, we will have a negotiation and i'm sure it will be a successful one. scott: let's turn to the multilateral system. there is a conference coming up in buenos aires. what is on the u.s. agenda for the minesterial conference? conference and trumpoes the administration plan to do with the ongoing negotiations, such as the trade and services agreement?
amb. lighthizer: trying to make some decision as to which ones we think are in our interests, which ones we want to pursue. ustr is doing a study on that and hopefully it will come out in another month or so. our view is it is unlikely that is going to lead to any negotiated outcomes. there are a number of areas where we would be willing to engage. hopefully we will end up with a good conference, one that we decide what the upcoming agenda will be and there will be an agreement on that. clearly, services are important for the united states. we have a $250 million trade surplus. that is a very important part of what we want to encourage. american companies could be much bigger if we had better roles and if we didn't have countries blocking u.s. exports of services. that is a major thing for us.
i have had a lot of executives talking to us and they have a whole myriad of problems, trying to sell their services around the world. scott: to continue with the wto, the united states has raised some objections to the way bodies are formed and that process. can you tell us about what the u.s. is trying to accomplish in terms of changing the body? amb. lighthizer: there are a number of issues on which there is a pretty broad agreement that the wto dispute settlement understanding is deficient. i mean, there are transparency issues, issues with the staff. a whole variety of issues that we have a problem with. i think there is a general agreement that there are problems.
but i think even beyond that there is a general agreement to our problems, but i think even beyond that, the united states sees numerous examples over the years and it has really diminished what we have bargained for. there have been a lot of cases in the trade remedies law where in my opinion, it is really indefensible. we have tax laws that have been struck down. we've had other provisions where the wto took the position that they were going to strike down something that they thought should not have happened. what we have tended to see as americans, is to look at the wto and we say, "okay, this is a contract and these are my
rights." others tend to think they are evolving governance and there's a very different idea between these two things and i think sorting that out is what we have to do. really, things we are trying to evolve into what is good for trade, that is one thing. when ambassador hill sat down and negotiated, she had a very precise idea of what it was the united states was giving and what it was we were getting. and anything that is not enforced in that way is troubling.
evolvedink the dsu has creates new obligations and it has reduced a lot of our benefits. practically, it is what we have to worry about in the end and it is a fundamental part of the wto. is, itit is a very, it raises a lot of issues on the wto. >> on a practical level, to patterns that have come out on both sides which is not surprising at all and the complainants tend to win much more than a coin toss. which says to me there is a
selection of cases that is worth prestige of the country bringing them. the u.s. is involved in a lot of cases. how do you think the decisions on cases will affect the reform process? amb. lighthizer: to the extent we are objecting to the process is because we don't agree in many cases with the way the appellate body has approached this. the appellate body has not limited itself to what is in the agreement. so i mean that is, that is the nature of our complaint. that is not to say we don't win cases, of course we win cases. back when senator brock and i were there, there was a system where you would bring in half
-- panels and then you would have a negotiation. system.as a now under this dispute process, we have to create a point of view. scott: let's talk about the investigation into intellecutal property in china. lot off a problem for a firms, it is somewhat new. we have not done that recently. what should we expect to see? amb. lighthizer: personally, it is an investigation so i can't prejudge it. coming up onring then we willd
gather facts. will recommend a remedy so we have not prejudged anything come of it you say, there are an awful lot of complaints about technology transfer. ceo's come to see me continuously and almost every ceo at some point will say they are having a problem with china, forcing them to joint venture, intellectual venture,to the joint having to license their process less than market value. in addition to that, there's another issue which is whether or not there is piracy of intellectual property. so we are looking at both of those things. there's an awful lot indicated. intellectual property is one of the competitive advantages the united states has. not that the rest of the world
isn't clever also. but the united states has developed an enormous amount of intellectual property and benefit of that our workerstry and is very important. it is a fundamental case. if we turn up wto violations, we will bring them to the wto. we will try to devise other remedies than where we end up with armed forces. we all want to get to the same thing and we have confidence that if we get to the point where we like free trade, the united states will do great. question is, what do you do to get there? do you have a more muscular approach, of do you hope that if you talk about it, people will see the light? i guess what i wanted to say
because in 2015, congress was fairly specific for ongoing consultations. how are you and your team handling the consultation expectations that congress has set and advancing at the speed you are advancing with nafta? amb. lighthizer: we all know if we're going to get to a conclusion. we are running very quickly somewhere. we have a series of five-day sessions as you say. andn between the beginning the ending of the year. another one starting in ottawa in another week or so. there are elections coming up in mexico, and plus in the united states, the whole process is having effects on ranchers and business people, particularly in the united states and mexico, but also in canada. the agreement is to move into negotiation as quickly as you can do it. the consultation process is complicated as most people know. the first time this process was used was 1979 when the carter administration came up and did that agreement.
since then, i think it is fair to say that every time they have renewed it, they have added some new twist that somebody said "why don't you do this, or why don't you do that, also?" and the reason for that is the constitution gives power. they have a right to say what these terms are. we have to consult with the congress. we have to consult with our advisors. we come up with text or at least give the process an opportunity to be heard, then we have to go to congress and when we get many proposals from the countries, we
have to go through the same process. it is unwelcome to the heart of the people. you have a real negative effect, unintended collateral damage on real people selling products so it is difficult and takes a lot of time. it is fairly intense and it is hard on everyone, but a something that has to be done but i think we have to do a good job on it. scott: one bilateral negotiation that is theoretically underway, transpacific trilateral
partnership. the ttip. not talked about at all. it never really got much passed definition ground. what are your thoughts on trade with europe? where does this go? amb. lighthizer: it is a huge relationship. that agreement is one where looking at. there's a reason we have elections in europe. on the broader question, the question is extremely important. enormousjust an amount of trade between the united states and europe. it is an important relationship.
develops. closely withnating them. scott: one final question on services and what we talked about the agreement and what you're hearing from companies. clearly, it is a major issue in -- a major advantage in the rest of the world. what is your vision for when negotiations can go in this administration? biggesththizer: our objective is to open markets and compete. companies to services,ink of
ourpecific barriers to work and we always have a list of complaints of very specific barriers and we have a certain amount of leverage and not in others. we are doing what we can to open the markets in right now, we are doing it at a bilateral basis across the board. scott: let me be the first to thank you for coming here and having a forthright vision of what you're doing. i found your remarks very helpful. we do appreciate you being here. thank you and wish you the best of luck. amb. lighthizer: thank you. it was a pleasure to