U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed two executive orders in order to ramp up trade enforcement.
In one of them, Trump required the commerce secretary and the U.S. trade representative to prepare a report within 90 days, assessing the practices of U.S. trading partners contributing to the 500 billion U.S. dollars trade deficit the United States had in 2016 on a country-by-country and product-by-product basis.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told local media that the report will form the basis for further actions by the Trump administration to tackle bilateral trade imbalances.
He said that the results of the report could lead the administration to find solutions about how to reduce trade deficits by increasing U.S. exports.
The second order aims to improve collection of anti-dumping and countervailing duties. It said that, as of May 2015, about 2.3 billion dollars in anti-dumping and countervailing duties owed to the U.S. government remained uncollected.
The order also directs the Department of Homeland Security to better combat violations of U.S. trade and customs laws and enable enhanced seizure of counterfeit and pirated goods.
The Trump administration's approach to tackling bilateral trade imbalances has received widespread criticism from economists.
Gary Hufbauer, a trade expert with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that the United States runs an overall trade deficit with the rest of the world because the combined net savings of the U.S. households, businesses and government sectors are negative, and the dollar is persistently overvalued in foreign exchange markets.
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 U.S. trade deficit.