During the fourth GOP debate of the 2016 election, Donald Trump talked at length about how China could take advantage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and in response, Rand Paul pointed out that China is not part of the deal.
Gerard Baker, the editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, and a moderator during Tuesday night’s debate, asked Trump about his opposition to the TPP.
“The U.S. just concluded an international trade agreement with 11 countries in the Pacific. You’ve said that you’d rather have no deal, than sign the one that’s on the table,” Baker said.
“It’s a horrible deal,” Trump interjected.
“Most economists say that trade is boosted growth, and every single post-war president has supported the expansion of international trade, including the last three Republican presidents,” Baker continued. “Why would you reverse more than 50 years of U.S. trade policy?”
“The TPP is a horrible deal,” Trump replied. “It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone. It’s 5,600 pages long, so complex that nobody’s read it. It’s like Obamacare; nobody ever read it. They passed it; nobody read it. And look at the mess we have right now. And it will be repealed.”
Trump continued to speak on his opposition to the deal, noting that he still loves trade. “I’m a free trader, 100 percent,” he said. “But we need smart people making the deals, and we don’t have smart people making the deals.”
Baker responded, and said that Trump was correct about the fact that 5,000 pages of the deal were published. “Are there particular parts of the deal that you think were badly negotiated,” Baker asked.
“Well, the currency manipulation they don’t discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster,” Trump responded. “If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States-China in particular because they’re so good.”
Trump listed China as the “number-one abuser of this country,” ad said that the biggest way it takes advantage of the U.S. is through currency manipulation. “It’s not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement,” Trump said. “It’s not even discussed.”
Rand Paul interjected, and noted that despite Trump’s opposition to China, the country actually is not a part of the trade deal.
“Hey, Gerard, you know, we might want to point out China is not part of this deal,” Paul said.
Baker questioned how, if the deal is not ratified by the U.S. Senate, it might “actually give China an opportunity to grow its economic leadership, which it’s been seeking to do and if the U.S. is unable to take part in this trade deal with these countries in Asia, China will take the lead?”
“There is an argument that China doesn’t like the deal, because in us doing the deal we will be trading with competitors,” Paul replied. “You’re exactly right.”