| WASHINGTON, April 10
WASHINGTON, April 10 U.S. President Donald Trump
is considering an executive order to launch a trade
investigation that could lead to supplemental duties in certain
product categories, a Trump administration official told
Trump has made reducing U.S. trade deficits a key focus of
his economic agenda to try to grow American manufacturing jobs.
He has taken particular aim at renegotiating trade relationships
with China and Mexico.
The new order, if issued, would seek to determine whether
U.S. trade deficits for those product lines are the result of
dumping of imported products below cost and unfair subsidies by
foreign governments, the official said late on Sunday in
That could eventually lead to additional import duties, but
any decisions on such punishments would depend on the probe's
findings, not "pre-determined conclusions," said the official,
who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the order was
still being considered. The official did not specify which
product lines could be investigated.
"The administration would use the results of that
investigation to determine the best path forward, which could
include everything from no action at all to the levying of
supplemental duties," the official said.
The Axios news website earlier quoted an official saying
such an executive order would likely target steel and aluminum,
two industries that are battling for more protection from
Chinese imports. Axios said it also may target household
appliances, where South Korean manufacturers with Chinese
factories have gained market share.
The Trump administration official did not provide any
details to Reuters on timing of the executive order, which would
be separate from a March 31 Trump order authorizing a 90-day
Commerce Department study of trade abuses and their effect on
U.S. trade deficits.
TRUMP-XI 100-DAY PLAN
News of the additional order comes two days after Trump's
first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida,
where the two leaders agreed to launch a 100-day plan for trade
talks aimed at boosting U.S. exports to China and reducing the
U.S. trade deficit with China.
Trump during his election campaign had threatened punitive
tariffs on Chinese imports and to declare China a currency
manipulator. He has not followed through on either threat thus
The U.S. steel industry has already won extensive
anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports from China and
other countries and the aluminum industry is seeking similar
protections. U.S. appliance maker Whirlpool Corp. has
also won anti-dumping duties against Samsung Electronics
and LG Electronics brand clothes washers
made in China.
But U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trump's nominee
to be the top U.S. trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, have
said they would work to find new trade remedies to stop unfairly
Among options they are expected to explore are trade actions
under Section 301 of the Tariff Act of 1930, a provision used
extensively in the 1980s to raise tariffs and import quotas on
certain Japanese products including steel and motorcycles.
Section 301 has largely gone unused since the World Trade
Organization was launched in 1995.
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Randy Fabi)