Friday, 28 April, 2017

Trump to sign executive orders targeting trade abuses

Friday executive orders tackle anti-dumping laws Chip Somodevilla Getty Images
Cecilia Poole | 02 April, 2017, 00:57

Both Ross and Navarro also made clear that both executive orders would tackle the sources of the US' trade deficit with China, which Trump argues has led to the loss of millions of U.S. jobs and the decline of USA manufacturing.

The first order will instruct the Commerce Department and the United States trade representative to compile a report on the sources of the USA trade deficit within 90 days.

Mr Ross argued that the USA has the lowest tariff rates of any developed country.

The eight-page Trump administration letter makes no mention of Trump's campaign threat to walk away from the trade deal.

While Trump has long argued that trade deficits imperil USA workers, Ross cautioned that they aren't necessarily all bad.

It is about all major countries with which the United States has significant trade deficit.

In a second executive order Trump will order the government to look at ways the United States can better recover trade duties on products that are subsidized by foreign governments or dumped on the U.S. market.

Between 2001 and 2016, about $2.8 billion in import taxes went uncollected from companies in 40 countries, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Friday.

The pair of orders are expected a week before Mr Trump meets the Chinese president at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Much of that deficit data is already publicly available and well known, but Trump's initiative doubles down on his tough trade rhetoric and is being taken as a protectionist warning shot across the world.

"The jobs and wealth have been stripped from our country", he said.

"We're going to get down to some very serious business", Trump said.

He added that "American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives".

"For the first time", said Peter Navarro, director of Trump's National Trade Council, "we're looking comprehensively at the source of what has been a large and persistent trade deficit that has contributed to job losses, the loss of our manufacturing base and other things". Its findings would serve as a guideline for the government to develop trade policies going forward in a "very measured and analytical way".

On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to say the meeting with the Chinese leader will be "a very hard one".

The trade study, to be completed within 90 days, will examine deficits "country by country and product by product" to assess the extent they are caused by "cheating or inappropriate behavior", Ross said. These include trade abuses such as dumping of goods below costs and unfair subsidies, "non-reciprocal" trade practices by other countries and currencies that are "misaligned".

"The determination of dumping, or selling a product below its fair price, applies to imports from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan", it said in a statement.

Early this month, the USA trade representative released an annual trade policy report highlighting negative effects of the Korea trade pact, arguing that the pact "coincided with a dramatic increase in our trade deficit" with the South.

The incident unfolded on the White House's official live stream of the event but was cut from an edited video later posted on Mr Trump's personal Twitter account. China, the largest source of the US's trade deficit, has repeatedly run afoul of the US' anti-dumping laws, and Trump has repeatedly accused the country of hurting the United States economy through unfair trading practices.

Sec. Ross pointed out that The U.S. has the largest trade deficit with China. In some cases, for instance, the US simply can't produce enough of a product to meet domestic demand.

The executive orders come as the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Trump administration is floating a plan around Congress to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

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