Trump set to sign executive orders on trade

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Washington: US President Donald Trump on Friday will sign two executive orders aimed at combating foreign trade abuses that contribute to the country’s half-trillion-dollar trade deficit, officials said.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said the Trump administration will launch a wide-ranging review of the US trade deficit with the purpose of identifying forms of “trade abuse” that have contributed to the deficit, reported The Hill newspaper reported.

Ross said the investigation will go through US trade relationship country-by-country to look for issues like cheating, lax enforcement or currency misalignment.

“It will demonstrate the Trump administration’s intention not to hip-shoot, not to do anything casual, not to do anything abruptly, but to take a very measured and analytical approach,” he said.

Trump has tied deficits to unfair trade practices and has vowed to renegotiate major trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to give the US a better advantage.

NAFTA is an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the US, creating a trilateral trade bloc in North America.

Ross said that the report will look at factors from trade barriers such as tariffs to currency misalignment and other issues that tip the trade balance into the favour of foreign countries.

He emphasised that the comprehensive report would be the first of its kind and would take an analytic deep dive into the issues the US faces with its trading partners, said the report.

“The report will demonstrate the administration’s intention not to hip-shoot, not to do anything casual, not to do anything abruptly, but to take a very measured and analytical approach,” he said.

He ticked off a dozen or more countries in the order with a combined goods and services trade deficit, starting with China and including Mexico, Germany and Canada that run a surplus with the US.

Ross said results could produce action against unfair trade practices before the 90-day period is up, reported The Hill.

The second executive order will give US agencies, especially those working at the borders, greater power to collect import taxes.

Navarro said the inability of the US to collect anti-dumping duties on a wide range of products is a “long festering problem.”

Navarro said that China accounts for about one-third of more than 300 anti-dumping cases.

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