But his views do not align with most mainstream economists, who agree that China’s trade practices are a problem but say tariffs are too blunt and ineffective a tool for dealing with it. And most economists do not support the steel and aluminum tariffs that the administration has imposed on allies including Japan, Canada, Mexico and the European Union. A White House economic analysis has also found that the tariffs will hurt economic growth.
Many of those experts say Mr. Trump’s planned tariffs would backfire — by raising costs to American businesses and consumers, and by inviting retaliation against American exporters. They say he would better serve his purposes by enlisting international allies in a pressure campaign against Beijing.
But Mr. Navarro has objected to that approach, saying that China has been given too many chances to change. Mr. Navarro says that China needs to feel the heat of tariffs in order to make changes the United States has long been seeking, including opening its market more fully to American companies and ending its practice of pressuring businesses to hand over valuable technology in order to operate in Beijing.A divisive figure
Mr. Navarro’s tenure within the White House has been somewhat of a bumpy ride.
In December 2016, before taking office, Mr. Trump created the new office of the White House National Trade Council and appointed Mr. Navarro as its director. The creation of the office suggested the new body would have a position on par with the powerful National Security Council and the National Economic Council.
But Mr. Navarro’s National Trade Council was eliminated, and he was renamed head of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, which was folded into the National Economic Council and placed under the purview of its director at the time, Gary D. Cohn, whose more conventional views on trade contrasted sharply with those of Mr. Navarro.
Mr. Navarro, however, outlasted Mr. Cohn, who resigned this year over his objections to Mr. Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. That gave Mr. Navarro a freer hand in counseling Mr. Trump to embrace the type of tough trade measures that the White House is now putting in place.