On March 31, 2017, President Trump signed a Presidential Executive Order Regarding the Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits (not yet published in the Federal Register). The EO states that
Free and fair trade is critical to the Nation’s prosperity, national security, and foreign policy. It is in America’s economic and national security interests to promote commerce by strengthening our relationships with our trading partners, vigorously enforcing our Nation’s trade laws, improving the overall conditions for competition and trade, and ensuring the strength of our manufacturing and defense industrial bases.
The EO states that for many years, the United States has not obtained the full scope of benefits anticipated under a number of international trade agreements or from participating in the World Trade Organization. Stating that the trade deficit in goods exceeds $700 billion and overall trade deficit exceeded $500 billion, the EO says that the United States must address the “challenges to economic growth and employment that may arise from large and chronic trade deficits and the unfair and discriminatory trade practices of some of our trading partners.”
Unfair and discriminatory practices by our trading partners can deny Americans the benefits that would otherwise accrue from free and fair trade, unduly restrict the commerce of the United States, and put the commerce of the United States at a disadvantage compared to that of foreign countries. To address these challenges, it is essential that policy makers and the persons representing the United States in trade negotiations have access to current and comprehensive information regarding unfair trade practices and the causes of United States trade deficits.
The EO requires the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in consultation with the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Defense, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, and the heads of any other executive departments or agencies with relevant expertise, as determined by the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR, to prepare and submit to the President an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits (Report). To aid in preparing the Report, the Secretary of Commerce and the USTR may hold public meetings and seek comments from relevant State, local, and non-governmental stakeholders, including manufacturers, workers, consumers, service providers, farmers, and ranchers. The Report shall identify those foreign trading partners with which the United States had a significant trade deficit in goods in 2016. For each identified trading partner, the Report shall
(a) assess the major causes of the trade deficit, including, as applicable, differential tariffs, non-tariff barriers, injurious dumping, injurious government subsidization, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, denial of worker rights and labor standards, and any other form of discrimination against the commerce of the United States or other factors contributing to the deficit;
(b) assess whether the trading partner is, directly or indirectly, imposing unequal burdens on, or unfairly discriminating in fact against, the commerce of the United States by law, regulation, or practice and thereby placing the commerce of the United States at an unfair disadvantage;
(c) assess the effects of the trade relationship on the production capacity and strength of the manufacturing and defense industrial bases of the United States;
(d) assess the effects of the trade relationship on employment and wage growth in the United States; and
(e) identify imports and trade practices that may be impairing the national security of the United States.