President Donald Trump is set to sign two executive orders on trade. One order calls for a review of the U.S.'s trade deficit with various countries like China and Germany. The other executive order aims to increase the U.S.'s collection of antidumping and countervailing duties.
On Thursday night, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Director of the White House National Trade Council Peter Navarro briefed the press on what the orders will do.
The executive order instructing the Commerce Department to review our trade deficits is a completion of promise Trump made in June of last year.
In Pittsburgh Trump promised, "to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses."
Ross said that the Commerce Department along with the U.S. Trade Representative will give a report of their findings to the President in 90 days with details on the causes of the trade deficit with specific countries and an overview on the major problems. Ross did not promise any specific policies that will result from the report but told reporters to expect action before the report is finalized, saying "there very likely will be some interim activity because unlike many administrations this is not an administration that needs to wait to the very end to make interim decisions."
According to Ross there has never been a systematic review of trade deals like this before.
"There has never been this kind of systematic analysis," Ross said. "In prior administration people made forecast at the time trade deals or the WTO was introduced but never really followed up to say well what actually happened and was it good or bad from our point of view."
The U.S. has under collected $2.8 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties, according to Navarro.
The U.S. collects antidumping duties when companies sell goods below the what it cost them to manufacture it in an attempt undercut American manufacturers. The U.S. enacts countervailing duties when other countries subsidize the production of goods allowing them to be sold prices below American companies .