Trump Signs Trade Executive Orders, Will Challenge China Market Economy Status Bid

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The U.S. is preparing a review of China’s bid for market-economy status in the World Trade Organization, the Wall Street Journal reported today. Finishing a busy day in trade, Trump also signed two executive orders designed to enhance enforcement of current trade pacts and promised to end “the theft of American prosperity.”

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The Trump administration appears ready to formalize China’s unfavorable status in trade cases, which means the country’s goods would be eligible for higher U.S. tariffs, the paper said, citing documents from the Commerce Department website. The review is expected to be announced as early as this week, it said.

The first of the two trade orders Trump signed today calls for completion of a large-scale report to identify “every form of trade abuse and every non-reciprocal practice that now contributes to the U.S. trade deficit,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the Washington Post.

The second order focuses on stepping up the collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties levied against foreign governments that subsidize products so they can be sold below cost.

White House National Trade Council Head Peter Navarro said the U.S. is leaving billions of dollars on the table as a result of lax enforcement of commitments in current trade pacts. The order will establish more effective bonding requirements, among other measures, Navarro said

Officials at commerce will have 90 days to produce the country-by-country, product-by-product report that will serve as the basis of future decision-making by the administration on trade-related issues.

Both manufacturers and steelmakers praised the orders ahead of signing this afternoon.

“AISI has consistently urged that the United States take aggressive action to address trade barriers that distort global trade and international competition and harm U.S. industries, including the U.S. steel industry,” said Thomas Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute. “The executive orders today provide key guidance on that path, especially with regard to increased enforcement and an enhanced look at anti-dumping and countervailing duty collection at our borders. We are pleased that the president and his team remain committed to leveling the playing field for American manufacturing, and we look forward to continuing the steel industry’s strong role in working with (the) administration to combat these unfair practices and ensure a fair and competitive global trade arena.”

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