Trump Defends America First Trade Policy (While Mnuchin Extols Virtues of a Temporarily Weakened Dollar)

Steven Mnuchin, national finance chairman of President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, arrives at Trump Tower, Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 in New York, to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump landed early Thursday morning in Davos, Switzerland to meet with world leaders at the World Economic Forum and his first meeting were bi-lateral meetings with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, and Benjamin Nentanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.

Trump attends the forum with the intent of defending his “America First” trade strategy, which outlines his belief that the U.S. can engage in bi-lateral trade agreements with friendly nations willing and his desire to enact tariffs on countries that make it hard for the U.S. to compete globally.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin primed the path in Davos for the arrival of the president by defending the America First agenda in the face of some world leaders who warned the U.S against forgoing multi-lateral agreements.

“This is about an America First agenda. But America First does mean working with the rest of the world,” Mnuchin said. “It just means that President Trump is looking out for American workers and American interests no different than he expects other leaders would look out for their own…”

…Mnuchin said American involvement in a new Asia-Pacific trade pact between 11 countries was “not off the table”, despite Washington pulling out of early talks on the deal last year.

But he added, “We are fans of bilateral trading agreements.”

Mnuchin also brushed off concerns about a slide in the strength of the dollar, saying, “obviously a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.”

A slide in the U.S. dollar should help U.S. exporters, but Mnuchin also added a nuanced outlook: “Longer term, the strength of the dollar is a reflection of the strength of the U.S. economy and the fact that it is and it continues to be the primary currency in terms of the reserve currency.”

The president is scheduled to meet with European business leaders later this afternoon before returning back to the U.S.