One of the chief negotiators and public advocates for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been named as President Trump’s new special assistant on international trade, investment, and development for the National Economic Council. Andrew Quinn is a former deputy chief negotiator of the TPP who was named to the National Economic Council on Monday by NEC Director Gary Cohn.
Quinn was brought into the Obama White House in 2012, where he not only negotiated for the TPP but also became a public face for defending the controversial trade proposal after the Obama administration faced a backlash of opposition over its unprecedented, sweeping regulatory structure and secrecy.
Andrew Quinn’s inclusion in a Trump administration is shocking given that his support for the TPP is in sharp contrast to President Trump’s steadfast opposition to the trade deal.
As the New York Times reported in an article titled Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade Deal, dumping the TPP deal was one of the new President’s first acts in office, and it sent a strong signal to both the Democrat and the Republican establishment.
President Trump upended America’s traditional, bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by his predecessor and declared an end to the era of multinational trade agreements that defined global economics for decades.
With the stroke of a pen on his first full weekday in office, Mr. Trump signaled that he plans to follow through on promises to take a more aggressive stance against foreign competitors as part of his “America First” approach. In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America — and that the United States should help write the rules of international commerce.
That strong stand just weeks ago makes the inclusion of Andrew Quinn in his administration baffling.
In this presentation given while he was part of the Obama administration, Quinn makes his case for the TPP, which he refers to as “the purest distillation” of what the Obama administration hoped to achieve on trade issues. Quinn makes the case for globalist “access to markets” which he says would be balanced with concern for the environment and “workers’ rights.”
In October 2015, the man who is now part of the Trump administration also acted as a salesperson for the TPP to small businesses, giving a conference call presentation called What the Trans-Pacific Partnership Means for Your Small Business, described thusly:
As a lead negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Mr. Quinn will discuss his role in negotiating the TPP as well as the implications of the various chapters of the TPP on America’s small businesses. With a great deal of expertise in the region, Mr. Quinn also serves as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
The TPP is expected to ease the cost and complexity for small firms doing business in TPP countries, eliminating more than 18,000 tariffs currently put on U.S. products and services. There also is a more enhanced focus on small business with this major trade deal than in past deals.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the TPP has not yet been made publicly available, making this conference call a unique opportunity to get the inside track on the final deal, and participate in a lively question-and-answer session.
Quinn’s support for not just the TPP but for multilateralism, in general, is diametrically opposed to the bilateral approach that helped Donald Trump get elected, but, right on cue, establishment media outlets such as Politico have praised the inclusion of Andrew Quinn in a Trump administration, saying that Quinn’s appointment shows that National Economic Council director Gary Cohn is providing pro-globalist balance.
Politico crowed that Quinn’s inclusion in the Trump White House “could be another sign that the former Goldman Sachs leader (Gary Cohn) is putting in place a more conventional trade team that could act as a counterweight to the newly formed National Trade Council led by ardent economic nationalist Peter Navarro.”
Generally, the new White House has been wary of staffing itself with people who oppose the ideology that got Donald Trump elected. For example, Politico reports that the White House is pushing back on the plan by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to name Anne Patterson, the former U.S. ambassador to Egypt working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood, as his undersecretary of defense for policy.
There is no public record of Andrew Quinn changing his ardent public support for the multilateral, globalist Trans-Pacific Partnership.