Trump expected to sign executive orders addressing trade abuses, enforcement

Published on
March 31, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to sign two executive orders on Friday, 31 March focused on identifying contributing factors to the country’s trade deficit and cracking down on anti-dumping and unpaid duties, according to media reports.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said the measures are designed to give the administration a better understanding of the country’s trade deficit and give it the tools needed to fight back against unfair trade practices.

The first executive order will call for a report identifying "every form of trade abuse and every non-reciprocal practice that now contributes to the U.S. trade deficit," Ross said on 30 March, according to Fortune.

The Commerce Department will spearhead the report, which is due in 90 days and will include a “country-by-country, product-by-product” review that will form “the basis of future decision-making by the administration on trade-related issues,” Ross said.

The second executive order will increase the tools available to the U.S. in its collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties from foreign governments that subsidize products sold in the United States below cost, according to Fortune. The order will establish more effective bonding requirements, among other measures, Navarro said.

The American Shrimp Processors Association was one of the first seafood-related groups to comment on the executive orders, praising them in a press release. The group represents the domestic, U.S. wild-caught, warm-water shrimp processing industry along the Gulf Coast.

“We are very pleased that President Donald Trump has taken major action today to strengthen U.S. trade enforcement. Making it harder for foreign companies to evade legally required duties helps to level the playing field for U.S. companies, [including] ASPA members, against unfair foreign competitors,” ASPA Executive Director David Veal said. “In an industry like shrimp, where small, family-owned American businesses have to compete with large volumes of unfairly traded imports, foreign-duty evasion is a perennial and widespread problem. When this order is implemented, duty collection should immediately improve.  That means the competitiveness of our U.S. shrimp industry improves and our ASPA members can create more jobs.”  

ASPA Gulf Trade Counsel Eddy Hayes said the domestic shrimp industry is especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of foreign shrimp being dumped on the domestic market.

“For imported shrimp and many other imported products covered by orders, there have been problems with importers disappearing or not paying duties found owed. Under this order, Customs and Border Protection will have 90 days to devise a plan to protect the revenue where importers pose risks by requiring additional bonding or other security,” Hayes said. “Ensuring that high-risk importers cannot import dumped or subsidized imports and then escape liability for duties owed is an important step towards improving the effectiveness of U.S. trade remedies.”

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