Trump targets Ireland's 'chronic' trade surplus with US

Donald Trump is expected to sign Executive Orders today, to launch a study into these alleged unfair practices and perhaps ordering the collection of duties from countries identified as selling products into the United States at low prices.

The first order will give officials 90 days to create a comprehensive list of "every form of trade abuse and every non-reciprocal practice that now contributes" to the $500 billion USA trade deficit.

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.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the administration will use the report when it is finished in 90 days as a "basis for decision making".

One specific step Trump has already decided on is stricter enforcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, the penalties that the US already imposes on importers who violate trade rules.

"Nothing we're saying tonight is about China", Navarro said at a Thursday evening briefing.

He also confirmed that the executive orders are not aimed at sending a wrong signal to China ahead of the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping next week.

"We're here to do a job", he said, referring to his economic policy staff.

Ross said the review would provide the administration with a clearer picture of who is abusing the system by engaging in unfair trade practices.

US President Donald Trump is launching a campaign to pinpoint nations and goods responsible for his country's huge trade deficit.

He added that "American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives".

The first executive order commissions a report on trade practices that contribute to the trade deficit, while the second seeks better collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

The report, he said, will examine whether deficits are being driven by things like cheating, specific trade obligations, lax enforcement and World Trade Organisation rules.

In January, Trump withdrew the USA from the massive Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement and has stepped up attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), spurring concern that his next target could be the pact with Korea that he denounced as a job-killing deal during the campaign. The Wall Street Journal reported the draft document shows the White House "is serious about opening the door to "Buy American" provisions and negotiating greater flexibility to impose or reinstate tariffs on Mexican and Canadian goods".

After taking over at Commerce, Ross said he was "horrified" to learn that billions in countervailing duties and antidumping fines had never been collected.

"Thousands of factories have been stolen from our country, but these voiceless Americans now have a voice in the White House", Trump said.

He said the analysis "will demonstrate the depth of 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 both to analyzing the problem and, therefore, to developing the solutions for it".

"Today's executive orders are an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Trump administration now has no plan for making America more competitive or helping American workers", said Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.).

The directives will allow Mr Trump to focus on meeting his campaign promises to combat the flow of unfairly traded imports into the United States just a week after his pledge to replace Obamacare imploded in Congress.

  • Zachary Reyes