US President Donald Trump has signed two executive orders meant to step up trade enforcement.
President Trump forgets to sign executive order, walks out of ceremony.
During his campaign, Trump promised to make a fair trade deal for the United States.
While not aimed specifically at China, these two orders could be an opening bid in Trump's trade negotiations with Xi.
The first order directs the Commerce Department to take the next three months to review the reasons for US trade deficits and all violations of trade rules that harm USA workers across every trading partner.
Hufbauer considered Trump administration's approach to the bilateral trade balance as a display of mercantilist doctrines, adding that a trade balance makes little economic sense as a guide to trade policy in the 21st century, nor as a focal point for shrinking the United States trade deficit.
"Thousands of factories have been stolen from our country. Under my administration, the theft of American prosperity will end".
The orders come just a week before Trump's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.
Some economists say these arguments are about how we calculate import and export figures.
And there's no getting around the fact the United States' biggest trade deficit - $347 billion - is with China.
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"It will demonstrate the Trump administration's intention not to hip-shoot, not to do anything casual, not to do anything abruptly, but to take a very measured and analytical approach", he said.
The second directive will order stricter and more effective enforcement of USA anti-dumping laws to prevent foreign manufacturers from undercutting U.S. companies by selling goods at an unfair price.
'They're cheaters!' Trump said of importers his administration will target.
"The designation of a country as a trade manipulator is the problem of the U.S. Treasury Department, not that of Congress".
Early this month, the USA trade representative released an annual trade policy report highlighting negative effects of the Korea trade pact, arguing that the pact "coincided with a dramatic increase in our trade deficit" with the South. So we need to do a better job on behalf of the American worker.
In his 2016 White House bid, the NY businessman campaigned heavily against free-trade deals and accused China of draining jobs from US factory towns with cheap exports. He claimed that he would restore American manufacturing.
The second executive order required a comprehensive review of America's trade deficits and all violations of trade laws that harm the country and its workers.
After taking over at Commerce, Ross said he was "horrified" to learn that billions in countervailing duties and antidumping fines had never been collected. "This is a story about trade abuses, this is a story about an under-collection of duties", Mr Navarro said.
"While other countries talk about free trade, they actually are far more protectionist than we are", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters. 'From now on those that break the rules will face the consequences, and there will be very severe consequences'.
70-year-old Trump, who has a love-hate relationship with the media, ignored the questions and moved to another room, only to be chased by Vice President Pence, who picked up the folders containing the two executive orders.