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Trump in Davos: 'Predatory behaviors' are distorting global markets

President Trump has issued a firm warning to rival trading nations."We support free trade, but it needs to be ...

Posted: Jan 26, 2018 1:47 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2018 1:47 PM

President Trump has issued a firm warning to rival trading nations.

"We support free trade, but it needs to be fair, and it needs to be reciprocal," Trump said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Trump, the first sitting American president to address the conference since Bill Clinton, touted tax and regulatory changes and solicited new investment from business leaders in a speech that lasted just 15 minutes.

The address also included a pledge to "enforce our trade laws, and restore integrity to our trading system."

"The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies and pervasive state-led economic planning," said Trump.

Davos 2018: Complete coverage

"These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets, and harming business and workers not just in the U.S. but around the globe," he added.

The comments, delivered to the crowd of central bankers, government officials and finance titans that attend Davos, suggest that Trump will pursue an aggressive trade agenda in his second year in office.

Trump slapped new tariffs on imported residential washing machines and solar panels this week.

He has less than 90 days to decide whether to apply tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, and has threatened to withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA if he's unhappy with the outcome of talks about revising the pact with Canada and Mexico.

Related: Will Trump target China over tech?

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also addressed the administration's trade agenda in Davos, saying that the "next area of challenge" will be China's tech industry.

"Many countries are very good at the rhetoric of free trade, but actually practice extreme protectionism," Ross told reporters on Wednesday. "That is a problem with which the president is quite determined to deal."

Related: Steven Mnuchin is the British pound's new best friend

China has thrown its weight behind artificial intelligence, electric cars and computer chips in recent years, pumping money in to create industry champions with global clout.

"That is a direct threat, and that is a direct threat that is being implemented by the technology transfers, by disrespect for intellectual property rights, by commercial espionage, by all kinds of bad things," Ross said.

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