WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump will sign executive orders on Friday aimed at identifying abuses that are causing massive U.S. trade deficits and clamping down on non-payment of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports, his top trade officials said.
The orders come as Trump prepares for his first face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi next week in Florida, where trade issues promise to be a major source of tension. China was the biggest contributor to the $734 billion U.S. goods trade deficit last year, and the meeting “will be a very difficult one” Trump said in a tweet.
The directives allow 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 repeal and replace Obamacare imploded in Congress.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters that one of the orders directs his department and the U.S. Trade Representative to conduct a major review of the causes of U.S. trade deficits. These include trade abuses such as dumping of goods below costs and unfair subsidies, “non-reciprocal” trade practices by other countries and currencies that are “misaligned.”
Ross took pains to say that currency misalignment was not the same as manipulation, and only the U.S. Treasury could define currency manipulation. But he said in some cases, currencies can become misaligned from their traditional valuations unintentionally, citing the Mexican peso’s sharp decline late last year after Trump’s election.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang on Friday acknowledged there was a trade imbalance, but said it was mostly due to differences in the two countries’ economic structures and noted that China had a trade deficit in services.
“China does not deliberately seek a trade surplus. We also have no intention of carrying out competitive currency devaluation to stimulate exports. This is not our policy,” Zheng…