Trump to sign executive orders targeting trade abuses

Apr 12, 2017, 00:57

In a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that one of the orders instructs Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative to work together to conduct a sweeping review of the causes of U.S. trade deficits.

"Thousands of factories have been stolen from our country", he said, vowing to create a "level playing field" for U.S. workers.

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with the National Association of Manufacturers, Friday, March 31, 2017, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

One calls for a 90-day study of the country's trade deficits to identify potential abuses and the other one calls for stricter enforcement of anti-dumping laws.

Second, the investigation will look into whether the deficits with countries are because of specific free-trade agreements that did not produce positive results they were expected to generate for US businesses and workers, Ross said.

In Washington DC, the USA leader largely blamed "unscrupulous foreign powers" for his country's trade imbalance. 'From now on those that break the rules will face the consequences, and there will be very severe consequences'.

Donald Trump has long complained the US gets a raw deal on trade, and these executive orders are aimed at ending it.

Ross and Director of the National Trade Council Peter Navarro told reporters Thursday that the executive orders are not created to target any specific country or to put China on notice. Let's not make this a China story.

Navarro said the order directs the Commerce and Homeland Security departments to close these gaps by imposing tougher bonding requirements to ensure duty collections and new legal requirements for assessing risks associated with importers.

The US officials will look for evidence of "cheating", inappropriate behaviour, trade deals that have not lived up to their promise, lax enforcement, currency misalignment and troublesome World Trade Organization constraints.

Trump announced the trade initiatives less than a week before his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, leader of the country Trump has blamed most frequently for trade deficits and job losses.

Any U.S. trade enforcement measures should comply with generally accepted global trade rules and differences between the two countries should be handled properly, an unidentified spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce said in a speech on Saturday.

"If anyone had any doubt about the president's resolve to fix the trade problems, these two executive orders should end that speculation now and for all time", Ross said in remarks after Trump's.

The country-by-country study of the causes of trade deficits could be the basis of trade actions in the future.

Trump has portrayed trade deficits as strangling economic growth and devastating factory jobs at home.

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.

However, Ross said the presence of a deficit does not necessarily mean that retaliatory or remedial action would be taken.

On the other hand, Secretary Ross told the American people that the two executive orders mark the beginning of a new chapter of the country's trade relationship with its partners overseas. Foreign manufacturers often avoid paying these by exporting to the USA through under-capitalized shell companies that lack the funds to pay the penalties. On the southern border, Trump says the transaction has not been fair to the United States for "many many years".