Trump talks tough on trade, but his team is treading lightly

President Trump has called the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal a “rape” of the United States. He has scolded Germany for being “very bad” on trade because it runs a surplus. And in April he said that he was “psyched” to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, only to reverse course.

Despite Mr. Trump’s incendiary talk, his top trade advisers are taking a more cautious approach to dealing with America’s trading partners, striking a more moderate tone than the president but still laying the groundwork for the changes he has promised.

That more moderate tone has come as a relief to those who feared the Trump administration would swiftly usher in a wave of protectionism, while disappointing some people who hoped that a sweeping rewrite of trade deals would come in the administration’s early days.