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Trump: They think I'm an 'isolationist,' but 'I'm a free trader'

Donald Trump
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Donald Trump

Donald Trump, calling himself a "free trader," told CNBC on Thursday he would renegotiate trade deals like NAFTA, not end them.

"We will be redoing some of these horrendous, like I mean horrendous, trade deals that have destroyed New York state, ... that have destroyed Pennsylvania, that have destroyed Michigan," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "Look at what's going on in Michigan. Car companies that are moving to Mexico, in particular. I'll stop it. Hillary Clinton can't stop it."

Trump's anti-trade comments have been a source of concern on Wall Street, and one market fear has been of rising protectionism.

"So they may be talking about the fact that because I'm going to negotiate trade, I won't have any trade, and that won't lead to jobs," Trump said in the phone interview. "Well, the fact that I'm negotiating trade will mean that we're going to make good trade deals. But we are absolutely going to keep trading. I am not an isolationist. And they probably think I am. I'm not at all. I'm a free trader. I want free trade, but it's got to be fair trade. It's got to be good deals for the United States."

Trump complained about companies that leave the U.S. for Mexico, which he mockingly called "the eighth wonder of the world."

"We're losing businesses to Mexico, like one after another," he said. "Ford is building a massive new plant. It's an extension of another one. It just keeps going." He said when it comes to companies leaving for cost efficiencies, companies should look for more competitive opportunities in other states.

"You can't just leave the United States and there's no consequence," he said. He pointed to Carrier Corp, which is shutting down a plant in Indiana, and moving the work to Mexico.

"When they make an air conditioning unit they're going to pay something at the border. Every time they ship in a unit they're going to have to pay something. Now, when we do that, they're not going to leave any more," he said.