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Trump and Trade

Prospective Trump executive order on trade could lead to new tariffs

President Trump and his advisers are working on a new executive order on trade that could lead to new import duties on foreign-made goods like steel, aluminum, and appliances, a Trump administration official tells Reuters and Axios. The order, if signed, would launch an investigation into any "unfair" dumping of goods in the U.S. by foreign companies, and "the best path forward" might "include everything from no action at all to the levying of supplemental duties," the White House official said. Whatever action is taken, the official insisted, "will be informed by the results of the investigation and not by predetermined conclusions."

There is no timeline for the executive order, which is separate from a March 31 order launching a study on trade abuses and the U.S. trade deficit. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is driving the initiative, already subject to disagreement among Trump advisers, Axios says. New import duties would make targeted consumer products more expensive for Americans and U.S. companies that use steel and aluminum, but it could also help some U.S. manufacturers, which is a goal of Trump's. The White House faction wedded to America First nationalism — Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller, Peter Navarro, and others — is seen as pushing for the tariffs, while the ascendant Wall Street wing — Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Jared Kushner — is expected to push back.

In their summit last Thursday and Friday, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to trade talks on boosting U.S. exports and shrinking the U.S. trade deficit with China.