EXCLUSIVE: Trump Secures Biggest Ally Yet In Mission To Close Better Trade Deals

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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President-elect Donald Trump made closing better trade deals a highlight of his candidacy, and he might have just won his biggest ally yet in that arena.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a crusader for free-trade agreements, said he’s ready to work with the incoming administration on its plans to assure America is getting the most economically profitable deals as possible. During the campaign, Trump’s proposals set off alarm bells for many Republicans, who believed his approach could be detrimental to the economy.

Nevertheless, Brady said the GOP is putting together an ambitious agenda to put pro-growth policies in place in 2017 — including strides to make sure American goods are successfully bought and sold abroad.

“It’s not enough to merely buy American, we have to sell American all around the world — so we’re looking for new customers for American products and services. When done right and strictly enforced, trade agreements can offer that opportunity,” Brady, a Texas Republican, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “So, because President-elect Trump is enforcement first, the Ways and Means Committee and Congress, earlier this year provided the current president and the incoming president the strongest trade enforcement tools any president has had so we’re able to work with the president on stopping violations of trade laws.”

In February, Congress sent the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act to the president’s desk, overhauling trade laws by increasing transparency and putting provisions in place to increase the detection of trade evasion. GOP lawmakers are hopeful the president-elect can put those tools to use when planning his trade agenda.

Trump repeatedly lambasted the Trans-Pacific Partnership — President Barack Obama’s landmark trade deal — alleging it  would kill manufacturing jobs and allow other countries to take advantage of the U.S. Despite receiving bipartisan praise, TPP remains all but dead as there was not enough support to get it through Congress. But with nearly half of middle-class consumers expected to reside in the Asia-Pacific region during the course of the next decade, Brady said getting the best deals possible is an area all members can agree on, adding it’s critical American companies are able to compete abroad on terms that benefit the country.

“As Mr. Trump assesses and develops his trade agenda I’m eager to work with him on that,” he told TheDCNF. “I’ll make the case that to grow the U.S. economy we keep what works for America, fix what doesn’t work, but keep us in the game in those regions.”

Brady said he’s been in communication with the Trump team on a number of policy areas since the election, adding since it’s just days out, he is looking forward to seeing what the president-elect puts forward.

“He deserves the time to work through all the trade agreements, his priorities and take the steps he wants to take,” he said. “I’m eager to see how his agendas and priorities sort fit in, but we’re going to continue to sort of keep the conversation open with them and help, especially in the area of trade enforcement.

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