WHEN: Today, Tuesday, April 25th
WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk Box"
Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on CNBC's "Squawk Box" (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET) today, Tuesday, April 25th. Following is a link to the full interview on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000613000.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
ROSS ON FREE TRADE
I THINK THERE IS A LARGER TAKEAWAY. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS BEEN MUCH MORE FOCUSED ON ENFORCEMENT THAN HAD BEEN TRUE PREVIOUSLY. AND THERE'S A GOOD REASON FOR THAT. THE U.S. IS THE LEAST PROTECTIONIST OF THE MAJOR POWERS, AND YET WE HAVE THE HIGHEST DEFICIT, 500 BILLION. THE OTHER COUNTRIES THAT TALK ABOUT FREE TRADE ARE REALLY VERY PROTECTIONIST – EUROPE, CHINA, JAPAN. SO THEY HAVE THE RHETORIC OF FREE TRADE, BUT THE REALITY OF PROTECTIONISM. THAT SET OF FACTS IS NOT GOING TO BE PERMITTED TO CONTINUE.
ROSS ON CANADIAN TARIFF
I WOULDN'T REGARD THE CANADIAN SITUATION AS BEING ANYTHING LIKE THE WAR WITH ISIS, BUT IT CERTAINLY IS A VERY PRECISE SET OF TARIFFS ON A VERY PRECISE SET OF IMPORTS. THE REASON WE'RE PUTTING IT ON IS CANADA'S FORESTS ARE OWNED BY THE VARIOUS PROVINCES, AND THE PROVINCES CHARGE VERY DISCOUNTED, WE BELIEVE, VERY SUBSIDIZED PRICES TO THE LUMBERMEN, WHICH IN TURN LETS THEM GET A SUBSIDIZED LOW PRICE COMING INTO THE U.S. IT SIMPLY SEEMS UNFAIR BECAUSE IN THE U.S., MOST OF THE FORESTS ARE PRIVATELY OWNED AND THEREFORE THEY PAY FULL MARKET RATE FOR THE STUMPAGE.
ROSS ON THE DAIRY INDUSTRY
I THINK THEY ALREADY DID IN EFFECT WITH WRECKING THE DAIRY INDUSTRY. IT SEEMS A LITTLE STRANGE TO ME YOU WOULD EFFECTIVELY PROHIBIT DAIRY PRODUCTS FROM THE U.S. GOING INTO CANADA. THEY HAVE THIS VERY COMPLICATED SYSTEM FOR DAIRY MANAGEMENT UP THERE, BUT IT BASICALLY IS VERY, VERY PROTECTIONIST. SO I THINK BETWEEN THAT SYSTEM AND THE DUMPING OF LUMBER, YOU HAVE SOME SIGNS THAT NAFTA IS NOT WORKING VERY WELL.
ROSS ON THE DEFICIT
I THINK WHAT IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT IS THE PRESIDENT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MAKING IT CLEAR THAT IF HE NEEDS TO HAVE A LITTLE HIGHER NEAR-TERM DEFICIT OUT OF WHICH WE CAN GROW WITH ALL THE STIMULUS, IT SOUNDS AS THOUGH HE MAY BE UP FOR THAT.
ROSS ON TRADE DEALS
PRIOR ADMINISTRATIONS HAVE MADE SO MANY UNILATERAL CONCESSIONS TO OUR TRADING COUNTER-PARTIES, THAT WE DON'T HAVE A LOT LEFT TO GIVE THEM. FOR EXAMPLE, THE TARIFF ON AUTOS GOING INTO EUROPE IS 10%. OUR TARIFF IS 2.5. TARIFF GOING INTO CHINA WITH AUTOS IS 25%. HOW DO WE GO TO CHINA AND SAY YOU HAVE A 25% TARIFF, WE HAVE 2.5, WE'LL GET RID OF OURS IF YOU GET RID OF YOUR 25. IT'S NOT A VERY PROPORTIONATE THING. SO THE SAD PART IS THAT IN THE MISGUIDED UNILATERAL EFFORT AT FREE TRADE, WE HAVE ACTUALLY WEAKENED OUR ABILITY – OR THE PRIOR ADMINISTRATIONS MORE PROPERLY, THAT WEAKENED OUR ABILITY TO MAKE FUTURE TRADE DEALS.
ROSS ON STRICTER ENFORCEMENT
WE'RE STARTING IT WITH STRICTER ENFORCEMENT BOTH AS WE SHOWED HERE WITH THE CANADIANS AND THE LUMBER AND ON THE OTHER SIDE. A FEW WEEKS AGO WE PUT ANOTHER $1 BILLION-PLUS FINE ON A VERY LARGE CHINESE COMPANY CALLED ZTE, THE SECOND LARGEST TELECOM EQUIPMENT PEOPLE, BECAUSE WHAT THEY WERE DOING WAS VIOLATING THE SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREA AND ON IRAN. SO THE POLICY OF THIS ADMINISTRATION IS, FIRST OF ALL, WE WILL STRICTLY ENFORCE THE WTO RULES, WHATEVER TRADE DEALS WE HAVE.
With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and CNBC World, CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage and business information to more than 385 million homes worldwide, including more than 94 million households in the United States and Canada. CNBC also provides daily business updates to 400 million households across China. The network's 15 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries.
CNBC also has a vast portfolio of digital products which deliver real-time financial market news and information across a variety of platforms including: CNBC.com; CNBC PRO, the premium, integrated desktop/mobile service that provides live access to CNBC programming, exclusive video content and global market data and analysis; a suite of CNBC mobile products including the CNBC Apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices; and additional products such as the CNBC App for the Apple Watch and Apple TV.
Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBCUniversal Media Village Web site at http://www.nbcumv.com/programming/cnbc.
For more information about NBCUniversal, please visit http://www.NBCUniversal.com.