Trump aims to root out 'cheaters' to combat burgeoning trade deficit

Cornelia Mascio
Aprile 3, 2017

President Trump heavily criticized USA foreign trade policy during his presidential campaign. He said the findings, which also will cover currency misalignments, disadvantageous provisions in trade deals and "constraints" imposed by the World Trade Organization, will help guide Trump's trade policies.

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed two executive orders in order to ramp up trade enforcement.

Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary said that the government would impose punitive countervailing duties to prevent dumping of certain products by subsidised economies.

Ross said the report will form the basis of future decisions by the Trump administration to tackle trade imbalances.

Talking to White House reporters, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted that the executive orders were not just about China.

The timing of the orders has raised some questions, however, as the signing comes less than a week before Trump is due to meet with his Chinese counterpart.

Trump has repeatedly stated that he wants to bolster US manufacturing create trade deals that work in America's interests. "American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives".

However, Mr Ross said the presence of a deficit does not necessarily mean that retaliatory or remedial action would be taken. "This is a story about trade abuses, this is a story about an under-collection of duties", Navarro said.

This may be an acknowledgement that any meaningful progress with China could be slow, said David Dollar, a former World Bank and U.S. Treasury Department official.

The announcement says the U.S. must address the challenges to economic growth and employment that may arise from large and chronic trade deficits and the "unfair and discriminatory" trade practices of some of their trading partners.

Navarro said the new measures would target U.S. agencies' failure to collect those duties "like a laser" to collect all anti-dumping taxes owed to the United States and "deter the cheaters".

"It's a little bit hard to say that someone is an evil-doer if they are providing a product we can't", he said. In other cases, Ross said, it may be that the other country can simply build a product cheaper or easier that the U.S.

"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.

"This is a story about under-collection of duties, this is a story about 40 countries that basically subsidise their products and send them into our country or dump their products, and this is about collecting those products and defending American workers and manufacturing", Navarro said. "We just haven't been doing it very well".

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