WSJ: Republicans Pose Growing Challenge to Trump’s Trade Agenda




March 12 | By: William Mauldin and Jacob M. Schlesinger. 

Republican lawmakers are showing increasing resistance to President Donald Trump’s trade agenda, worried that his plans could hurt exports from their states and undermine longstanding U.S. alliances.

The concerns indicate that the biggest threat to Mr. Trump’s trade policy—which emphasizes new bilateral deals and a tougher stance against countries blamed for violating trade rules—is coming from his own party. The opposition from Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, stands to complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, and tackle alleged trade violations in China.

“We want to support him on all those things; we’re not there yet,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.), whose state depends on aerospace and agricultural exports.

While many Democrats in Congress are interested in working with the Trump administration on trade, Republicans who have long backed free trade—many of them close to business groups—are warning that imposing tariffs could lead to retaliation against U.S. goods. Lawmakers from farm states are upset that Mr. Trump in January pulled out of the unratified Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the 12-nation trade agreement that Barack Obama negotiated.

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