Trump signs twin executive orders targeting trade 'cheaters'
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order seeking a comprehensive review of the massive trade deficit totaling more than USD 500 billion per annum with 16 countries, including China and India.
He also signed a second order that seeks to strictly enforce anti-dumping laws. It would ensure that the US fully collects all duties imposed on foreign importers that "cheat", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
The announcement, which comes just days ahead of Trump's first meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, is widely seen as targeting China, even though US officials have insisted that it does not single out that country.
"They're cheaters. From now on, those who break the rules will face the consequences and there will be very severe consequences," Trump said without naming any country. The first order directs the Department of Commerce and the Office of the US Trade Representative to examine the factors causing the trade deficit that totals more than USD 500 billion per annum and submit a report within 90 days.
The review of the factors and violations behind the trade deficits will be led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump said.
"We're going to investigate all trade abuses, and based on those findings, we will take necessary and lawful action to end those many abuses. I'm not beholden to any political or financial interest. I don't care. I'm here to do a job," he said while insisting that he was acting for the "American worker".
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Department of Commerce and US Trade Representative will submit a "comprehensive report" to the president on the causes of the "unduly large deficit" within 90 days.
Spicer also said countervailing duties were put in place to address the problem of other countries "dumping undervalued goods" into US markets, which makes it "impossible" for homegrown businesses to compete with "artificially low prices".