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JS trade + Add to myFT Trump demands solution to US trade deficits with China and others ?resident warns of ‘very difficult’ summit with Xi Jinping Tough talking: China's President Xi Jinping (lef) and US President Donald Trump © REUTERS/Toby Meiville/Luce Jackson/File Photos wv f in & Falzn Save ‘ESTERDAY by: Shawn Donnan in Washington and Tom Miteholl in Beijing Donald ‘Trump has ordered officials to find a solution to the US trade deficits with Zhina and other major economies just days ahead of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The US president signed an executive order on Friday calling for a 90-day country: >y-country and product-by-product study of the US’s $500bn annual trade deficit. Dhina’s more than $300bn contribution to that will come under close scrutiny, administration officials said, and the study will examine possible solutions to be enacted even before it is finished. “The jobs and wealth have been stripped from our country year after year, decade after decade, trade deficit upon trade deficit,” he said. “Thousands of factories hav: Mr Trump also signed an order requiring officials to improve the way they collect ounitive anti-dumping duties levied on products from countries found to be selling z00ds into the US at artificially low prices. Friday’s focus on trade marked an effort by his administration to deliver on one of ais key campaign promises and to return the national conversation to a topic that was embraced by the working-class voters who helped lift him to power. “Che wellbeing of the American worker is my North star,” he told reporters on Friday. Sideon Rachman But the move comes as Mr Trump faces increasing criticism over both an Destined for war? China, America and the Thucydides trap investigation into Russian interference in. November's election and the stalling of his legislative agenda thanks to an internal ee Republican battle over healthcare and Pee ene epee doubts over the party’s ability to deliver relationship tax reforms. Friday’s signing of the executive orders also rekindled fears that his administration could set off new trade frictions with Beijing and other trading partners by focusing on what many economists consider to be a misleading netric of countries’ bilateral commercial relationships. ‘It is worth remembering that some of our best years of economic growth have produced our largest trade deficits, while the Great Recession was accompanied by asharp reduction in the trade deficit,” said Tom Donohue, head of the US Chamber of Commerce and a critic of Mr Trump’s protectionist rhetoric during last year’s presidential campaign. The president on Thursday signalled that trade — and the deficit with China — would be high on the agenda at his meeting next week with the Chinese president at Mar-a-Lago, Mr Trump’s Florida resor “The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no onger have massive trade deficits and job losses. American companies must be orepared to look at other alternatives,” he said on Twitter. In response, Zheng Zeguang, China’s vice-foreign minister, said China’s trade surplus with the US was “the result of the global distribution of industries, division of labour and different economic structures of China and the US”. Se Donald J. Trump & eeeciea) ~ F @reaidonaictrump The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits... sicet ODOR RPa CT) 3:16 pm - 30 Mar 2017 7.717 Hoos te TIK © 35K a Se 4 sk 8h 5K & 27K Mr Zheng argued that China ran trade deficits with other countries, did not seek to maintain an overall surplus and would not devalue the renminbi to boost the competitiveness of its export sector. “We are running a deficit [with the US] when it comes to trade in services,” Mr Zheng added. “If the US would relax controls on high-tech exports to China and facilitate Chinese investment in the US, that would be helpful in addre: trade imbalance between the two countries.” ing the People familiar with preparations for Mr Xi’s first summit with Mr ‘Trump have warned that it likely to be a low-key “working” encounter that will not result in a “grand bargain” on trade and investment disputes or even a handful of “tweetable outcomes”. Wilbur Ross, US commerce secretary, said the review of the US trade position with the world would focus on individual deficits with countries and whether they were caused by issues such as “cheating”, ill-conceived trade agreements, World Trade Organisation “constraints”, or “misaligned” currencies. “Needless to say, the number one major source [of the trade deficit] is China,” he told reporters. But the study, he said, would look at all countries with which the US had trade deficits in goods, including big US trading partners such as Germany, Canada and Mexico and smaller ones such as Switzerland and Indonesia. Trump & Le Pen compared in 90 seconds The US is meanwhile preparing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The US had a $63bn deficit in goods with Mexico last year and Mr Trump has regularly cited it in his threats to levy a punitive border tax on companies that relocate US factories to Mexico to take advantage of lower labour costs. Trump advisers such as Peter Navarro, the academic and China hawk whom Mr Trump installed at the head of a new National Trade Council, argue that US trade deficits have led to massive US job losses and that supply chains need to be repatriated in the interests of national security. “The story here is really one of a historic moment for the presidency in which for the first time we are looking comprehensively at the source of what has been a large and persistent trade deficit that has contributed to job losses, loss of our manufacturing base and other things,” Mr Navarro told reporters. The US has run a trade deficit with the world since the 1970s. Follow Shawn Donnan on Twitter: @sdonnan Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017, Alll rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.