President Trump Signs Executive Orders on Trade

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Administration officials touted the action as the most comprehensive attempt to address the trade deficit in modern history. These new orders are proof of that mission, he said.

Trump's move Friday to direct the government to identify "cheaters" in global trade - potentially those who artificially reduce prices - could allow US companies to better compete in the export marketplace, reducing the overall deficit, but also increasing the price of imports arriving. In other cases, Ross said, it may be that the other country can simply build a product cheaper or easier that the U.S.

Critics counter that although the U.S. runs a deficit with some countries, no nation has benefited more from current global trading arrangements than its only superpower. Like a good boy, Pence then proceeds to gather the orders in a nice little folder for the president to sign later.

One order calls for the completion of a large-scale report that will track trade deficits country-by-country and product-by-product, while the other would improve the collection of duties on imports.

While not aimed specifically at China, these two orders could be an opening bid in Trump's trade negotiations with Xi.

The U.S. trade deficit totaled $502.3 billion previous year, a slight increase from 2015, according to the Commerce Department.

Trump referenced his meeting with China in his remarks in the Oval Office.

In one of them, Trump required the commerce secretary and the U.S. trade representative to prepare a report within 90 days, assessing the practices of USA trading partners contributing to the $500 billion trade deficit the United States had in 2016 on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis. "It's been very bad what's been happening to our country, in terms of our companies and in terms of our jobs".

Among those in attendance were Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Peter Navarro, the director of the White House National Trade Council, and Steve Bannon, the president's chief strategist. "Also, some products are just not made in the United States, so it's hard to say someone is an evildoer if they're making a product we can't". "Let's not make this a story about China. This is not our policy", Mr Zheng told a briefing about the upcoming Xi-Trump meeting.

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"For the first time, we're looking at what's been the source of the large and persistent trade deficit that has contributed to job losses", he said.

Ross also said that the report will give the Trump administration the right direction to take a "measured and analytical approach" and not do anything in haste without careful understanding.

"The tweet is trying to set low expectations", said Dollar, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

US exports to Thailand a year ago were worth $10.57 billion and imports totalled $29.49 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $18.92 billion, according to US Census Bureau data.

The report would identify "every form of trade abuse and every non-reciprocal practice that now contributes to the USA trade deficit", said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"This demonstrates the administration's intentions".

Ross's comments follow tweets Trump posted Thursday blaming China for US trade deficits and job losses.

European trade has also been in Trump's crosshairs.

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