Uncertainty Over Trump’s Trade Plans Creates Rift Between Mnuchin And Navarro

U.S. President Donald Trump signs the 'Section 232 Proclamations' on steel and aluinum imports in Roosevelt Room the the White House March 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump announced a week earlier that he will put a 25-percent tarriff on steel and a 10-percent tarriff on alumninum.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

Senior administration officials have privately confessed that it’s anyone’s guess what President Donald Trump will eventually decide to do on trade, Politico reported Thursday evening.

That fickleness has led to private infighting between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s senior trade adviser Peter Navarro– a feud that spilled out into public view this week.

Just a few days after Mnuchin declared the trade war with China was “on hold,” the Trump administration announced it would impose trade levies against China and Navarro made critical comments to NPR about Mnuchin. He called Mnuchin’s “on hold” remark an “unfortunate sound bite.” People within the administration considered Navarro’s public rebuke of Mnuchin a fireable offense, but one senior administration official told Politico that they didn’t think Trump would act on it.

The feud between the two officials — combined with Trump’s lack of patience over what he thinks are incessant negotiations on a variety of trade issues — has led to the creation of a trade policy “that’s nearly impossible for anyone to understand or predict,” in Politico’s words.

“(Trump’s) fed up with feeling like the negotiating partners aren’t ever going to give in to his demands,” a former administration official told Politico. “He’s tired of waiting to do big things on trade.”

Read Politico’s full story here.

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