Speaking before a colorful backdrop of crushed aluminum cans, Trump pitched himself at a factory in Rust Belt Pennsylvania as a change agent who would bring back manufacturing jobs and end the "rigged system," which he argued presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton represents.
Trump promised sweeping changes if elected -- including killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and urged voters to be wary of a "campaign of fear and intimidation" aimed at swaying them away from his populist message.
"Our politicians have aggressively pursued a policy of globalization -- moving our jobs, our wealth and our factories to Mexico and overseas," he said, reading from prepared remarks and using teleprompters. "Globalization has made the financial elite who donate to politicians very, very wealthy. I used to be one of them. Hate to say it, but I used to be one of them."
Trump repeatedly slammed Clinton for supporting free trade agreements and argued that under a Clinton presidency "nothing is going to change."
"The inner cities will remain poor. the factories will remain closed," Trump said at Alumisource, a raw material producer for the aluminum and steel industries in Monessen, Pennsylvania, an hour south of Pittsburgh. "The special interests will remain firmly in control."
Echoing Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Trump also argued that Clinton has "voted for virtually every trade agreement" and accused her of supporting trade deals that have hurt U.S. workers.
Trump's speech drew a swift rebuke Tuesday from opposing ends of the political spectrum.
The Chamber of Commerce, the big business lobby that traditionally backs Republicans, issued a swift statement warning that Trump's proposed policies would herald another U.S. recession.
"Under Trump's trade plans, we would see higher prices, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy," the group tweeted, linking to a lengthier article warning
that a recession would hit the U.S. "within the first year" of a Trump presidency.
The Clinton campaign also tweeted a photo of a shirt from Trump's clothing collection that is made in Bangladesh.
Most Trump-branded clothing is made outside the U.S., including in China and Mexico.
"I'd love for him to explain how all of that fits with his talk about 'America First,'" Clinton said in a speech last week.
Trump moved quickly on Tuesday to insulate himself from the criticism from his rival's campaign and others opposed to his vision of radically changing U.S. economic policies.
Trump repeatedly warned Americans to gird themselves against a "campaign of fear" he argued Clinton and others are running against him -- a notable criticism given the accusations that several of his policies, including a ban on Muslims and a plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, have played to voters' fears.
The de facto GOP nominee promised to instruct his treasury secretary to "label China a currency manipulator" and to order the U.S. trade representative to bring lawsuits against China at the World Trade Organization and in U.S. courts to combat what he characterized as unfair trade policies.
And he also warned of potentially levying tariffs on imports from China and other countries, reviving a common theme of his campaign.
Trump has frequently argued on the stump that the U.S. is getting "killed" by other countries on trade and threatened to raise certain tariffs on China and Mexico up to 35%.
Early on in his yearlong campaign, Trump singled out specific American companies -- notably Ford and Nabisco -- for plans to move some of their manufacturing plants abroad.
Slamming Nabisco for building a factory in Mexico, Trump has vowed he's "not eating Oreos anymore."
A senior Trump aide told CNN earlier on Tuesday the speech would be "the most detailed economic address he has given so far."
Trump has frequently lamented the economic slowdown working-class communities in America have faced as a result of a drop in American manufacturing, particularly in the last decade.