Top Republican’s advice to Trump on trade: ‘Keep what works for America’

Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, told Business Insider in a recent interview that he believes President-elect Donald Trump will be “enforcement first” regarding US trade agreements.

The Lone Star state Republican, who has previously said free trade “is at the core of Republican principles,” also said his recommendation for Trump when considering what to do with both existing and future trade agreements is to “keep what works for America.”

Expressing his eagerness to speak with Trump and his trade transition team about the issue, Brady was confident Trump would not seek to limit trade, but merely enforce existing agreements.

“This president is all about economic growth, and beyond tax reform, in addition to balancing regulation, America needs more customers,” he said. “It’s not merely ‘buy American.’ We have to sell American across the world. And done right, and strictly enforced, these trade agreements do just that. America wins, and we create sales abroad and jobs at home. My thinking is that this president-elect is enforcement first on trade, and we’re right there with him.”

Brady, who supported TPP, mentioned trade enforcement legislation passed that gives Trump “the strongest trade enforcement tools America has ever had.”

“Moving forward, I’m convinced this president-elect has unprecedented negotiating skills,” he said. “My recommendation to him is as he assesses old trade agreements and considers new ones, keep what works for America. Keep our companies in those regions because we need to compete and win.”

When mentioning the Asia-Pacific region – an area that was sought to be addressed by TPP – Brady said the middle class customers in that area are “customers America needs to win.”

“So I’m hopeful to have that discussion so we can make the case that as fixing the tax code can solve a lot of problems,” he said. “And opening up these new markets are very important to his vision of having the best economy on the planet.”

Trump railed on many of America’s free trade agreements along the campaign trail, particularly NAFTA and TPP. He pledged to renegotiate the former and essentially kill the latter.

The president-elect also promised to get tougher on trade enforcement with China, promising to label the country as a currency manipulator at the onset of his presidency next month. During his “Thank You Tour” in recent days, he criticized China heavily when discussing foreign trade.

“We have stupid trade,” Trump said at a Friday rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Stupid trade. Stupid. It’s dumb.”