Trade orders set stage for revival
U.S. President Donald Trump sought to push his crusade for fair trade and more manufacturing jobs back to the top of his agenda on Friday by ordering a study into the causes of U.S. trade deficits and a clampdown on import duty evasion.
The orders marked Trump's latest attempt to follow through on his campaign rhetoric decrying other countries for taking advantage of the US' trade policies.
Deficits in trade can also mean that foreign countries and entities are investing in United States assets.
The second order will empower the Department of Homeland Security to help deal with trade and customs violations.
Examples of abusive trade practices include manufacturers selling goods below their cost of production and unfair subsidies aimed at undercutting USA manufacturers.
The orders are not specifically aimed at China, according to officials, but Ross noted that China is the number one source of the US trade deficit, which was $347 billion a year ago.
Robert Lighthizer, Trump's nominee for post, has yet to be confirmed.
The Trump administration's approach to tackling bilateral trade imbalances has received widespread criticism from economists. Ross said the USA has never made such an analysis to follow up with trading partners and assess how the trade relationship has worked out or why a deficit developed. "This marks the beginning of the totally new chapter in the American trade relationship with our partners overseas". He said, however, that in some instances, the report will find that no real action should be taken because the deficit with a particular country isn't related to bad behavior.
"They are not just jumping into something". "I'm not thinking about my business or anybody's business".
The president had been expected to sign the orders after giving his remarks, but left before he had. The exceptions would include oil imports by the U.S. that may have cost large trade deficits, or because some products that are not made in the United States and have to be imported. Also pictured from left, Vice President Mike Pence, and National Trade Council adviser Peter Navarro.
The second order will address the failure of USA agencies to collect anti-dumping penalties.
During his campaign trail, Trump had campaigned for revising the trade agreements for making it favourable to the American firms and workers. Let's not make this a China story. Navarro said federal agencies will now take more enforcement actions when goods come into the country to collect those duties.
Trump, however, recognizes the potential for an uncomfortable meeting next week in Palm Beach, Fla.
Ross said the investigation will go through USA trade relationship country-by-country to look for issues like cheating, lax enforcement or currency misalignment.
He also wrote: "American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives".
The US trade deficit totalled US$502.3 billion a year ago, a slight increase from 2015, according to the Commerce Department.
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