Sen. Lindsey Graham, fresh off a Sunday golf outing with President Donald Trump, said he stands with the president on getting tough on trade with China.
But the South Carolina Republican told reporters in his home state Monday that he said the best way to combat China’s trade practices like mandatory technology transfers is through U.S. deals with allies in North America and Europe.
“I’m with Trump. It is now time to stand up with China, but the way to be effective is to get the NAFTA deal — a new NAFTA deal — and a new deal with Europe, and all of us combined go to China,” Graham said.
Graham said that there should be some short-term economic pain.
“You’ll pay more in the short-term,” he said. “Pay now or pay later. They cheat us too much.”
Graham also said his message to companies like Boeing and BMW, both of whom have large manufacturing bases in his home state, was that on the current course, China would just rip off their technology.
“This whole trade dispute. I spent all day yesterday with the president. I think by September we can have a new agreement with NAFTA countries — Mexico and Canada,” Graham said Monday. “We can modernize NAFTA, which would be a win-win for all of us, then eventually get a deal with Europe so we can have better access to their markets.”
“The goal of President Trump is to unite the world against Chinese business practices that are outside the norm,“ Graham said.
Graham also said that he would be revisiting with Trump the possibility of congressional action to target currency manipulation by China, which is a way the country can counter the effect of American tariffs.
“I am going to talk with the president about reintroducing my legislation that would declare China a currency manipulator, allowing tariffs to be put on products coming out of China that benefit from currency manipulation,” Graham said. “We’re in the initial discussions, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to go down this road because basically to avoid the pain of tariffs, they’re manipulating their currency.”
The Democrat from New York has previously pushed Trump’s administration to label China as a currency manipulator.
Golf Game Update
Graham also gave the South Carolina press corps a readout of Sunday’s round of golf with Trump at the president’s club in Bedminster Township, N.J.
“He shot 76, I shot 80. But we teamed up for the first time, and we won,” Graham said. “He made a 30-footer on 17, and I have money in my pocket today I did not have before, so I am not tired of winning yet. It feels really good.”