Recently President Donald Trump signed two executive orders relating to trade. These orders come within a week of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s meeting with the President.
- Report on Foreign Market Barriers and Trade Deficits: This EO directs the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Department to issue a report within 90 days that identifies systemic trade abuses and non-reciprocal trade practices that are harming U.S. industries. The report will focus particularly on countries with which the United States runs a trade deficit. The report is to detail the major causes of trade deficits by country and product, including the extent to which the deficit is due to trade cheating or other inappropriate behavior; free trade agreements that have not lived up to their forecasted benefits; lax U.S. enforcement, currency manipulation or misalignment; World Trade Organization (WTO) constraints; systematic overcapacity; and other issues. The intent is to use the findings of this report to provide the basis for appropriate trade enforcement and action.
- Improved Collection of Trade Remedy Duties: This EO directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), working with other agencies, to improve the collection of antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders at the border by improving bonding requirements and to take other measures to address risk assessments. This EO responds to the findings of a July 2016 General Accounting Office (GAO) report that found $2.3 billion in AD and CVD duties went uncollected through May 2015, citing inadequate bonding and risk assessment procedures.
In addition to the two Executive Orders, the US Trade Representative also released its annual report on international trade barriers around the world. This is the first such report released under the Trump Administration and an important window to how the new administration plans to elaborate on its approach to market-distorting actions taken by foreign governments. The report indicates a clear focus on robust trade enforcement—making sure other countries are playing by the rules to which they have committed.