White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who was benched last year after arguing strenuously with President Trump’s more moderate economic advisors, is reported to be back in favor again. Media say he may get a job that would give him more influence over trade policy. He has had two positions with fancy titles, but small staffs and little influence inside the White House.
In San Diego County from 1992 through 2001, Navarro ran unsuccessfully for mayor, county supervisor, city council, and Congress. He went on to become an economics professor at the University of California, Irvine. Trump, then a candidate for president, expressed strong approval of Navarro’s nationalist trade views.
In the days up to Sunday (February 25), the Wall Street Journal’s headline read, “Trump Set to Promote Trade Hawk Peter Navarro.” The New York Times proclaimed, “Peter Navarro, a Top Trade Skeptic, is Ascendant.”
Navarro has penned extremely hawkish books on trade. His books include The Coming China Wars (2006), and Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World. Conventional economists thumb down his views, and foreign affairs experts quaver at his exploration of the possibility of an armed conflict between the United States and China.
His new title might be “assistant to the president for trade policy,” says Politico. The publication says Trump, who often inquires why Navarro isn’t at trade-related meetings, ordered the change, which as of last night had not yet been made. Trump likes Navarro’s tough-guy approach to trade.
On February 23, Bloomberg reported that Trump was pushing for the “harshest possible” global tariff of 24 percent on steel imports, defying retaliation threats by the Chinese. The apparent ascendancy of Navarro “indicates that the influence of Trump’s Wall Street–based globalist wing — Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin — is waning,” says columnist Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge.