Many of the trade issues on which U.S. President Donald Trump is now focusing have been concerns for numerous White House administrations, according to Michael Froman, who served as U.S. Trade Representative under former President Barack Obama.
Froman, now Mastercard's vice chairman and president for strategic growth, discussed the current state of global trade with CNBC on Saturday at the annual Singapore Summit. Although he offered some advice for Trump's team, he emphasized that the current administration is trying to tackle "longstanding trade issues."
"Different administrations have had different approaches — I was part of another administration that had a somewhat different approach — but certainly some of the underlying concerns about subsidies, about [intellectual property] theft, about forced technology transfer, those are longstanding issues that a number of administrations have been concerned about," he said.
On Trump's tactics, Froman was diplomatic: "He certainly has a very distinct approach to trade, and it's something that he's had a longstanding view on, long before he ran for president," he said. "I think the rest of the world is paying attention to that."
Asked what advice he would offer to those currently engaged in the process of shaping global trade policy, Froman emphasized international collaboration and discussion.
"I think we are most influential vis-a-vis China when we are part of a broad-based coalition of other developed and developing countries, and I think the administration has started to reach out and work with the EU and Japan vis-a-vis China, and I think broadening that out to include other major emerging economies could be helpful as well," he said.