White House Aide Tells Wall Street to ‘Relax’ Over Trade Worries

March 15, 2018, 8:15 PM UTC

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said U.S. investors should “relax” over fears that new trade penalties will spark a skirmish that could hurt the world economy.

“We come in peace here,” Navarro said in an interview on CNBC on Thursday. “What everyone on Wall Street needs to understand is: ‘just relax.’”

“All these countries that are running huge trade surpluses with us, have no incentive to rock that boat. All we’re doing is standing up,” he added.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are working on requests for exemptions and exclusions from foreign countries and U.S. businesses, Navarro said. Trump earlier this month announced 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent for aluminum that will take effect March 23.

The talks are moving in “what I like to call ‘Trump time’ and not in the government bureaucracy time,” Navarro said. “These carve-outs and exemptions are going to be done in a way that is sensitive to the strength of our economy.” Navarro called Trump’s decisions “firm, but flexible.”

Canada and Mexico were excluded from the tariffs, and the Trump administration has left the door open for Australia and possibly other allies to win a similar concession if they can show they are trading fairly and national-security partners. Planned retaliation from the European Union to China has triggered concerns over a global trade war.

Trump earlier this year announced new import tariffs on solar panels and washing machines. Navarro called the move “courageous” and said it provided an example of what the U.S. government wants to accomplish: more consumer purchasing from local manufacturers to support the economy.

Lighthizer’s trade department is said to be weighing a recommendation for Trump to impose penalties on Chinese goods, as part of its investigation into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. Lighthizer is set to deliver the final report from that investigation in the coming weeks, Navarro said.

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