Trump to launch review of trade policy as he levels new threats at China

By Jenna Johnson and Damian Paletta

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and President Trump. (AP Photo/Files)

President Trump on Friday plans to sign two executive actions that will launch reviews of U.S. trade policy, the latest in a series of measured steps that could lead to a revamp of the way the U.S. engages with the global economy.

Both executive actions could serve as preludes to more severe White House decisions regarding tariffs and trade agreements, but on their own they reflect a marked softening from the heated trade jabs Trump used on the campaign trail, when he threatened to enter into trade wars with Mexico and China.

Still, the executive orders will come one week before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the new U.S. president, and Trump put Xi on notice Thursday when he wrote in a series of Twitter posts that he plans to have “difficult” conversations with his Chinese counterpart about trade issues.

…and job losses. American companies must be prepared to look at other alternatives.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2017

The first executive action will direct the Commerce Department and a new White House trade council to “identify every form of trade abuse and every nonreciprocal practice that contributes to the U.S. trade deficit,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters Thursday.

The trade deficit is the difference between a country’s imports and its exports. The United States has large trade deficits with a number of countries because it is so wealthy and imports goods from countries where products can be manufactured more cheaply. Trump has said that trade imbalances with Mexico and China are because those countries take advantage of the United States and he has called for taking a much tougher stance with each of them, threatening them with new tariffs and taxes.

“So what this report will do is within 90 …read more