First On CNBC: CNBC Transcript: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on CNBC's “Squawk Box” Today

WHEN: Today, Wednesday, April 4, 2018

WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk Box"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on CNBC's "Squawk Box" (M-F 6AM – 9AM) today, Wednesday, April 4th. Following are links to video from the interview on CNBC.com: https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/04/04/commerce-secretary-wilbur-ross-reacts-to-chinas-new-tariffs.html?play=1 & https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/04/04/commerce-secretary-wilbur-ross-china-tariffs-amount-to-0-point-3-percent-of-us-gdp.html?play=1.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

JOE KERNEN: CHINA IS PROMISING COUNTER MEASURES AFTER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSED SLAPPING 25% TARIFFS ON SOME 1,300 INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY, TRANSPORT AND MEDICAL PRODUCTS. JOINING US NOW FIRST ON CNBC COMMERCE SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS. MR. SECRETARY, IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON THIS MORNING TO TALK ABOUT SOME OF THESE ISSUES. WE'VE HAD PEOPLE ON, WILBUR, THAT ARE SAYING STILL A SKIRMISH. THAT IF WE CALL IT A WAR, THAT'S NOT REALLY APPROPRIATE YET. IT HASN'T GOTTEN TO THAT POINT. THESE ARE SKIRMISHES. WILL IT EVENTUALLY END UP BEING A FULL SCALE, IF YOU WILL, WAR?

WILBUR ROSS: WELL, LET'S PUT IT INTO PERSPECTIVE, JOE. THIS 50 BILLION THAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT AMOUNTS TO ABOUT 3/10 OF A PERCENT OF OUR GDP. SO IT'S HARDLY A LIFE THREATENING ACTIVITY. IT'S RELATIVELY PROPORTIONATE TO THE TARIFFS THAT WE PUT ON BASED ON THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, BUT I THINK THE MORE IMPORTANT THING IS THE TONE OF THE PRESIDENT'S TWEET EARLIER THIS MORNING. AS YOU KNOW, HE'S SAID IN THE TWEET, AND I AGREE, WHEN YOU'RE 500 BILLION DOWN, THIS ISN'T A WAR YOU CAN LOSE IF IT GETS TO BE A WAR. WE HAVE HAD A BIG PROBLEM WITH TRADE DEFICIT FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. SEVERAL PRESIDENTS GOT US INTO THIS BIG DEFICIT. THIS IS THE PRESIDENT WHO'S GOING TO GET US OUT OF IT. HE'S DETERMINED TO GO FORWARD AND THIS RESPONSE SHOULD NOT HAVE REALLY SURPRISED ANYONE. THEIR RESPONSE TO THE 232 TARIFFS WAS QUITE PROPORTIONATE TO THE 232 AMOUNT. THE RESPONSE HERE IS ALSO QUITE PROPORTIONATE TO THE $50 BILLION THAT WE ANNOUNCED LAST NIGHT. SO I'M FRANKLY A LITTLE SURPRISED THAT WALL STREET WAS SO SURPRISED BY IT. THIS HAS BEEN TELEGRAPHED FOR DAYS AND WEEKS.

KERNEN: WILBUR, DO YOU SEE BY – PROPOSED FOR THE END OF MAY, SO BY THAT TIME DO YOU SEE BOTH SIDES IMPLEMENTING THESE OR BY THAT TIME IS THEIR GOING TO BE NEGOTIATIONS WHERE THERE'S SOME FAVORABLE OUTCOME FOR THE UNITED STATES. AND I GUESS CHINA WOULD HAVE TO SAVE FACE AS WELL. IS THAT THE – WHAT YOU HOPE HAPPENS AND WHAT THE PRESIDENT HOPE HAPPENS? AND WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE? WHAT WOULD WE NEED TO COME TO SOME TYPE OF AGREEMENT OR NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENT?

ROSS: WELL, THINK ABOUT IT. EVEN SHOOTING WARS END WITH NEGOTIATIONS. SOMEBODY SIGNS A TREATY WITH SOMEONE ELSE. IT HAS WHATEVER TERMS IT HAS. SO IT WOULDN'T BE SURPRISING AT ALL IF THE NET OUTCOME OF ALL THIS IS SOME SORT OF NEGOTIATION. WHETHER IT HAPPENS BY MAY OR SOME OTHER TIME, THAT'S ANOTHER WHOLE QUESTION. I THINK IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO PUT A SPECIFIC TIME DENOMINATION ON NEGOTIATIONS THAT ARE AS COMPLEX AS THESE. REMEMBER, WE HAVE SOME 1,200 PRODUCTS. THEIR LIST, WHICH I HAVEN'T SEEN YET IN ENGLISH, I THINK HAS 1,300 PRODUCTS. THAT'S 2500 PRODUCTS TO TALK ABOUT. BUT IN TERMS OF THE CONTENT OF THEM, I DON'T THINK THERE WAS REALLY ANYTHING SURPRISING, IF YOU LOOK AT THEIR OWN COMMENTARIES, IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT THEY HAD SAID. SO THIS SHOULD NOT BE A GREAT SHOCK TO ANYONE. I DON'T THINK ANYBODY EXPECTED THAT CHINA WOULD DO NOTHING IN RESPONSE TO OUR INITIATIVE.

KERNEN: SO THE PRESIDENT HAS WHAT I WOULD CALL -- AND YOU KNOW, I HAVEN'T BEEN IN THE ROOM, BUT I WOULD CALL IT A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT XI. AND PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ALSO IN THE PAST SAID I DON'T BLAME THE CHINESE FOR THIS, I BLAME THE PEOPLE THAT WERE NEGOTIATING ON OUR SIDE FOR GETTING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF. SO HERE ARE THESE TWO GENTLEMEN THAT TALK ON THE PHONE AND HAVE A CERTAIN RAPPORT. I MEAN, IS IT POSSIBLE THAT MAYBE PRESIDENT XI AND PRESIDENT TRUMP COULD TALK AS NEGOTIATORS? AND I DON'T KNOW, THE CHINESE SEEM VERY INTENT ON BEING VERY SUCCESSFUL GLOBALLY, AND I DON'T KNOW WHETHER A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP COULD REALLY CHANGE THAT. I'M JUST WONDERING WHOSE FEET ARE REALLY IN CONCRETE HERE, DO YOU KNOW?

ROSS: WELL, I THINK IT IS CERTAINLY TRUE THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP AND PRESIDENT XI DO HAVE A GOOD PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP. THEY HAVE A RAPPORT. THEY'RE BOTH VERY STRONG LEADERS. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT THIS IS GOING TO BE ARMAGEDDON. ONE OF THE GOOD THINGS ABOUT PEOPLE HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER WHEN THERE IS A CONFLICT COMING UP IS THAT AT LEAST THERE'S A DIALOGUE. AT LEAST THERE'S A MUTUAL RESPECT AND THOSE ARE USUALLY THE FOUNDATION FOR ULTIMATELY MAKING A DEAL.

ANDREW ROSS SORKIN: WILBUR, I WANTED TO ASK YOU. STEPHEN ROACH WROTE A BOOK. IT'S CALLED "UNBALANCED, THE CODEPENDENCY OF AMERICA AND CHINA." HE HAS A CHAPTER CALLED A BAD DREAM AND IT'S ALL ABOUT HOW HE LAYS OUT WHAT A TRADE WAR WOULD LOOK LIKE AND THE IMPLICATIONS OF A TRADE WAR. AND HE SPECIFICALLY EFFECTIVELY SUGGESTS THAT CHINA'S DEFICIT, IF A TRADE WAR WERE TO TAKE PLACE, WOULD THEN GET DISTRIBUTED TO ALL THE OTHER COUNTRIES THAT MAKE UP OUR TRADE DEFICIT AND THEY'RE ALL HIGHER COST PRODUCERS OF CHINA. AND THE ULTIMATE CONCLUSION HE COMES TO IS THAT IT BECOMES A TAX ON AMERICAN FAMILIES, IT BECOMES A TAX ON AMERICAN FAMILIES THAT THE ADMINISTRATION HAS SAID THEY'RE TRYING TO PROTECT. WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT ARGUMENT?

ROSS: WELL, I THINK IT'S A VERY OVER BLOWN ARGUMENT TO BEGIN WITH. AND, SECOND, IF YOU LOOK AT THE WAY OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE BEHAVED IN THE FACE OF THE 232s, MANY OF THEM ARE STARTING TO PUT IN THEIR OWN SAFEGUARDS AGAINST CHINA ON STEEL AND ALUMINUM. SO, SURE, SOME OF THEM ARE ALSO PUTTING SOME TARIFFS ON US. VERY SMALL POPOTATOES. THE AMOUNTS RELATIVE TO OUR ECONOMY ARE TRIVIAL. THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BLOW ANYTHING UP, AND I THINK WHAT IS STARTING TO HAPPEN IS THE WORLD IS RECOGNIZING THAT CHINA'S BEHAVIOR IS A LITTLE BIT OUT OF CONTROL. AND I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO START TO SEE A COALESCING AGAINST CHINA. YOU HAVE ALREADY BEGAN TO SEE IT IN STEEL AND ALUMINUM. YOU ALSO SAW THAT THE PRESIDENT WAS ABLE TO HAVE A DEAL DONE WITH SOUTH KOREA ON THE STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS THAT HELPED NOT ONLY THAT SITUATION BUT ALSO OUR AUTOMOTIVES. THE PRESIDENT IS A LIFELONG DEAL MAKER. THIS ISN'T THE FIRST DEAL HE'S GONE INTO. IT ISN'T THE FIRST CONTROVERSY HE'S GONE INTO, AND I DOUBT THAT IT WILL BE THE LAST ONE.

KELLY EVANS: MR. SECRETARY, CAN YOU EXPLAIN, I ADMIT TO BEING SLIGHTLY CONFUSED ABOUT HOW WE, YOU KNOW, THE U.S. STARTED BY GOING AFTER CHINA ON STEEL AND ON ALUMINUM SAYING IT WAS DUMPING AND IT'S HURTING U.S. MANUFACTURERS. I KNOW THERE'S A SEPARATE CONCERN MANY PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT CHINA STEALING OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY FROM A LOT OF TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES. WHY ARE WE SEEING TARIFFS BACK AND FORTH ON EVERYTHING FROM GOLF CARTS TO PORK TO DENTAL IMPLANTS TO SOY BEANS TO CASH REGISTERS AND DISH WASHERS. HOW DID ALL OF THESE ITEMS GET CAUGHT UP? WHY ARE WE SEEING SO MANY DIFFERENT TARIFFS LEVIED BACK AND FORTH?

ROSS: SURE. WELL, THAT'S A VERY GOOD QUESTION AND I'M HAPPY TO ANSWER IT. THE REASON FOR THE U.S. LIST IS VERY SIMPLE. WE DID A SURVEY OF WHAT PRODUCTS WE'RE NOT TERRIBLY DEPENDENT ON CHINA FOR. THESE ARE ALL PRODUCTS WHERE CHINA IS NOT OUR MAJOR SOURCE. CHINA IS A MINOR SOURCE OF OUR IMPORTS IN EACH ONE OF THOSE PRODUCTS. THEREFORE, THE EASE WITH WHICH WE COULD SUBSTITUTE OTHER PRODUCTS FOR THE CHINESE IMPORTS IS QUITE GREAT IN THE LIST THAT WE PUT FORWARD.

EVANS: MR. SECRETARY, LET ME ASK YOU –

ROSS: THAT WAS THE THEORY OF IT.

EVANS: -- ON THAT FRONT, DOES THAT MEAN THOSE ARE JUST A TOOL IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL ON ALUMINUM AND STEEL AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY?

ROSS: WELL, ALUMINUM AND STEEL IS ABOUT TODAY'S IMMEDIATE PROBLEM. THOSE ARE INDUSTRIES OF TODAY. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IS ABOUT OUR FUTURE. OUR COUNTRY WILL ANNOUNCE ITS 10 MILLIONTH PATENT SOMETIME IN ABOUT THE NEXT TWO MONTHS. NO COUNTRY HAS EVER ACHIEVED ANYTHING LIKE 10 MILLION PATENTS. WE MUST PROTECT OUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BECAUSE THAT'S OUR FUTURE AND THERES A FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO MOVES WE MADE AND THE TWO RESPONSES OF THE CHINESE. OUR MOVES WERE BASED ON FACTS. THEY WERE BASED ON BAD BEHAVIORS. THEY ARE SET UP IN AN EFFORT TO MODIFY THOSE BEHAVIORS. THE CHINESE REACTION IS SIMPLY SAYING, "WELL, YOU HIT ME FOR X BILLION, I WILL HIT YOU FOR Y BILLION." IT'S A TIT-FOR-TAT. THERE'S NO INTELLECTUAL UNDERPINNING FOR IT. THERE IS FOR OURS.

SORKIN: HEY, WILBUR, CHINA'S CALLED THE TRADE WAR A LOSE-LOSE SITUATION. WALK US THROUGH WHAT A WIN-WIN SITUATION WOULD LOOK LIKE, BOTH FOR US AND TO THE EXTENT IT COULD TURN INTO A WIN-WIN FOR THEM. WHAT DOES A BEST CASE SCENARIO LOOK LIKE?

ROSS: WELL, I THINK IT'S A PRETTY CLEAR ONE. WE HAVE NO OBJECTION TO CHINESE TRADING INTERNATIONALLY. WE HAVE NO OBJECTION TO IMPORTING FROM THEM. BUT WE DO HAVE OBJECTION TO VIOLATION OF THE RULES. THE WTO RULES DO NOT PERMIT SUBSIDIES, THEY DO NOT PERMIT DUMPING, THEY DO NOT PERMIT THOSE THINGS. THE RULES DON'T REALLY ADDRESS VERY WELL INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, BUT IT'S PRETTY FUNDAMENTAL THAT YOU CANNOT STEAL SOMEONE'S INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY. THAT'S WHAT THEY'VE BEEN DOING. THEY HAVE TO STOP DOING IT. IF THEY GOT OFF THOSE TWO BAD BEHAVIORS, WE'RE VERY HAPPY TO COMPETE AGAINST THEM AND WE'RE HAPPY TO SEE IN WHICH PRODUCTS WE'RE THE BEST, IN WHICH PRODUCTS THEY'RE THE BEST, HAVE A REAL LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. IT'S NOT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD NOW AND THIS PRESIDENT IS DETERMINED TO MAKE IT A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.

KERNEN: SO, WILBUR, I JUST WONDER WHETHER THE END RESULT COULD BE WHERE, YOU KNOW, WHERE CHINA SAYS, "OKAY, YOU GOT US"? I MEAN, WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT HERE. THEY WANT TO MAKE CHINA GREAT. I UNDERSTAND HOW THAT WORKS. DO THEY KNOW THAT THEY ARE BEING DISHONEST WITH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY? DO THEY KNOW THAT THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE, BAD BEHAVIOR AND THEY'RE DOING IT BECAUSE IT'S THE ENDS TO -- OR THE MEANS JUSTIFY THE ENDS, AND COULD THERE COME A DAY WHERE THEY SAID, "OKAY, ALL RIGHT, YOU GOT US"? IT JUST SEEMS LIKE THE'YRE VERY COMFORTABLE STEALING THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY BECAUSE THAT'S GOING TO HELP THEM EVENTUALLY WIN IN THEIR VIEW. I JUST CAN'T IMAGINE -- DO YOU REALLY THINK THEY'RE GOING TO FINALLY SAY, "OKAY, YOU'RE RIGHT. YOU GOT US"?

ROSS: WE'RE NOT LOOKING FOR SOME SORT OF BIG CONFESSION. IT'S NOT ESSENTIAL THAT THEY SAY THEY'RE DOING ANYTHING WRONG.

KERNEN: BUT YOU WANT THEM TO STOP.

ROSS: WHAT IS – WHAT IS ESSENTIAL IS THAT THEY STOP THE BEHAVIOR. AND THAT CAN BE DONE WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC CONFESSION, WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC ANYTHING. IT'S EASY TO DO THAT BECAUSE THEY DENIED PUBLICALLY THAT ANY OF THIS EXISTS ANYWAY. SO IF THEY'RE ALREADY DENYING IT EXISTS, STOPPING IT SHOULDN'T BE VERY EMBARASSING.

SORKIN: WILBUR, IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MARKET AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE EARNINGS OF AMERICAN COMPANIES. I JUST WANT TO ASK YOU SPECIFICALLY WHAT YOU THINK AS AN INVESTOR HOW WAKING UP THIS MORNING SEEING THIS NEWS, YOU SHOULD THINK. BOEING, ITS STOCK LOOKING LIKE IT'S GOING TO OPEN DOWN 6%, CATERPILLAR DOWN 4%, THE MICROCHIPS, ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES DOWN 5%. DO THOSE NUMBERS MAKE SENSE TO YOU GIVEN WHAT IS ON THE TABLE?

ROSS: WELL I THINK, THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS WOULD FREAK OUT IF I STARTED MAKING ACTUAL MARKET FORECASTS. THAT'S SOMETHING I USED TO DO WHEN I WAS IN PRIVATE LIFE BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S APPROPRIATE NOW. WHAT I DO THINK IS APPROPRIATE IS PROPORTIONALITY. WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ON BOTH SIDES IS A FRACTION OF 1% OF THE ECONOMIES. SHOULD SOMETHING THAT WILL POTENTIALLY ADVERSELY AFFECT SOME PORTION OF 1%, SHOULD THAT RESULT IN A MAJOR CHANGE IN STOCK MARKET VALUES? I LEAVE THAT FOR YOUR OWN VIEWERS TO ANSWER. I THINK IT'S BEING OUT OF PROPORTION. AND WHAT DOES SURPRISE ME, AS I SAID, IN THE BEGINNING, THIS HAS BEEN COMING FOR QUITE A WHILE. ANYONE WHO THOUGHT THAT THE CHINESE WOULD DO NOTHING WHEN WE PUT ON THE MEASURES THAT WE DID JUST WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY EMBARRASSING TO THEM, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN UNNECESSARY. THEY ARE VERY GOOD AT ARITHMETIC. THEY KNOW WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FRACTIONS OF 1% OF THE RESPECTIVE ECONOMIES, SO THIS IS NOT WORLD WAR 3.

KERNEN: WILBUR, DO YOU AND THE PRESIDENT DISCUSS AMAZON?

ROSS: I'M NOT INVOLVED IN THE FTC OR ACTIVITIES OF THAT SORT. I HAVE QUITE ENOUGH TO DO WITH THE MANDATES THAT THEY'RE GIVING ME.

KERNEN: I MEAN, YOU GUYS, YOU'RE A CONFIDANT AND I KNOW, YOU KNOW, YOU'VE SEEN THE TWEETS AND THE ADMINISTRATION'S GONE TO GREAT PAINS TO SAY THERE'S NO ACTUAL EXECUTIVE ACTION COMING DOWN THE ROAD WITH HIM. WHAT DO YOU – DOES THE PRESIDENT ASK YOU WHAT IS IT POSSIBLE FOR HIS ADMINISTRATION TO DO TO DEAL WITH SOME OF THE THINGS THAT HE THINKS ARE INEQUITABLE IN AMAZON'S BUSINESS PRACTICES?

ROSS: WELL, IF YOU READ THE TWEETS, WHAT HE'S BEEN TALKING ABOUT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AMAZON AND THE U.S. POST OFFICE. HE'S BEEN TALKING ABOUT WHAT AMAZON'S ACTIVITIES HAVE DONE TO SMALL RETAILERS AROUND THE COUNTRY. HIS TWEETS HAVE BEEN, AS FAR AS I CAN RECALL, QUITE SPECIFIC. NONE OF THEM RELATE DIRECTLY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE.

SORKIN: BUT I GUESS THE QUESTION ON THE AMAZON FRONT IS HOW MUCH OF THIS IS ABOUT AMAZON ITSELF, HOW MUCH IS IT ABOUT JEFF BEZOS AND HIS OWNERSHIP OF THE WASHINGTON POST. WE'VE HAD DEBATES OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS ACTUALLY WHETHER EXECUTIVES WHO OWN A BIG COMPANY LIKE AMAZON SHOULD OWN A NEWSPAPER, TOO, GIVEN WHAT NOW APPEARS TO BE A CONFLICT THAT'S EMERGED.

ROSS: WELL, THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN VERY OUTSPOKEN, HIS VIEWS ON AMAZON, HIS VIEWS ON THE WASHINGTON POST AND HIS VIEWS ON JEFF BEZOS. I THINK HE'S YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS.

KERNEN: IT WAS -- WILBUR, IT WAS INTERESTING THAT NAFTA WAS ACTUALLY BROUGHT INTO THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THE CARAVAN, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, COMING UP FROM MEXICO, WILBUR. I MEAN, THERE'S A LOT OF NEGOTIATION -- NEGOTIATING AND YOU KNOW, TWEETS, THINGS LIKE THAT, IS -- COULD -- COULD MEXICO'S ACTION GIVEN WHAT HAPPENS WITH THESE HONDURANS, COULD THAT ACTUALLY AFFECT NEGOTIATIONS FOR SOMETHING THE SIZE OF A NAFTA DEAL?

ROSS: WELL, I WAS AT THE WONDERFUL LUNCH YESTERDAY WITH THE PRESIDENTS OF ESTONIA, LATVIA AND LITHUANIA WITH THE PRESIDENT AND IT WAS AT THE PRESS SESSION JUST BEFORE THAT LUNCH THAT HE TALKED QUITE ACTIVELY ABOUT THE CARAVAN, AND HE INDICATED HE HAD ASKED THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT TO DISBAND THE CARAVAN BECAUSE U.S. HAS VERY WEAK LAWS ABOUT ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. AS HE SAID IN THE CONFERENCE, IT CAN TAKE TWO YEARS BEFORE THEY GET SCHEDULED TO GO TO COURT AND THEN THEY NEVER SHOW UP IN THE COURT ANYWAYS. SO HE ASKED THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT TO USE HIS FORCES, HIS LEGAL FORCES AND IF NECESSARY HIS MILITARY TO DISBAND THE CARAVAN, AND AS FAR AS I CAN TELL, THE CARAVAN HAS PRETTY WELL DISBANDED. WHILE IT'S AN UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT AND A VERY PROVOCATIVE ONE, IT DOESN'T SEEM TO ME THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY THERE'S GOING TO BE A CARAVAN.

EVANS: MR. SECRETARY, JUST TO CIRCLE BACK TO THE TRADE ISSUE FOR ONE SECOND, AS INVESTORS ARE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHETHER THEY'RE -- HOW THIS WILL BE RESOLVED, YOU MENTIONED THAT THE GOAL HERE BY IMPOSING THESE IS TO GET CHINA TO STOP THE BEHAVIOR. ARE YOU SPECIFICALLY TALKING ABOUT STEEL AND ALUMINUM THERE? ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY? OR IS IT ALL OF THE ABOVE?

ROSS: WELL IT'S ALL OF THE ABOVE. AS I DESCRIBED, STEEL AND ALUMINUM DEAL WITH CURRENT INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITY. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IS THE KEY TO OUR FUTURE. WE HAVE TO SOLIDIFY BOTH OUR IMMEDIATE PRESENT AND OUR FUTURE BECAUSE WE NEED BOTH AND WE NEED THEM TO COMPLY WITH THE RULES TO GET BOTH.

SORKIN: HEY, WILBUR, HAS THE ADMINISTRATION CHANGED ITS VIEW ABOUT HOW IT LOOKS AT THE MARKET ON A DAILY BASIS? THE REASON I ASK IS OBVIOUSLY WHEN THERE WAS A RALLY TAKING PLACE IT WAS -- IT WAS LOOKED AT AND USED BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION AS A SIGNAL OF SUCCESS. STEVE MNUCHIN USED TO TALK ABOUT IT AS A MARK TO MARKET AND USED TO SAY, "WE'RE A MARK TO MARKET ADMINISTRATION." OBVIOUSLY WE'RE IN A DIFFERENT PLACE NOW THAN WE WERE THEN.

ROSS: I THINK THE PRESIDENTS REAL MARKS ARE "HOW IS THE ECONOMY DOING?" AND THE ECONOMY IS DOING VERY, VERY WELL. A LOT OF THE SAME NAYSAYERSWHO ARE WRINGING THEIR HANDS ABOUT TRADE SITUATION ARE THE SAME ONES WHO SAID WE COULDN'T GROW MORE THAN 1.5 OR 2%. THEY WERE WRONG. THEYRE THE SAME ONES WHO SAID THE PRESIDENT WOULD NEVER GET MAJOR TAX REFORM AND TAX CUTS. THEY WERE WRONG. NOW THEY'RE WRINGING THEIR HANDS ABOUT TRADE. THEY'RE GOING TO BE WRONG AGAIN.

KERNEN: MR. SECRETARY, THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR TIME THIS MORNING.

ROSS: THANK YOU.

KERNEN: APPRECIATE IT.

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CNBC
t: 201.735.4713
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e: emma.martin@nbcuni.com

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