Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”

And Trump said he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.

It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.

Stocks sank to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.

In a statement, UPS said that it “follows all applicable laws and administrative orders of the governments in the countries where we do business. We work closely with regulatory authorities to monitor for prohibited substances.”

FedEx also responded: “FedEx already has extensive security measures in place to prevent the use of our networks for illegal purposes. We follow the laws and regulations everywhere we do business and have a long history of close cooperation with authorities.”

Amazon and the Postal Service were not immediately available for comment.

Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.

In an apparent response, Trump tweeted: “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The new import taxes represent the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.

Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.

[CNBC]

Panicked Trump retweets claim farmers love him and Democrats are to blame for auto industry job losses

President Donald Trump seemed panicky Sunday night, searching for validation that everything is going well in his country despite reports to the contrary.

The president retweeted the chair of the Republican Party, who posted a video showing an Iowa farmer who loves Trump. The move comes after Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture got an ear full from farmers about not doing “great” under this presidency.

“We are not starting to do great again,” said Brian Thalmann, who serves as the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “We are starting to go down very quickly.”

Second, the president tweeted that a Joe Biden presidency would kill the fossil fuel industry and the auto industry along with it. Unfortunately for the GOP, the auto industry is already making a move to more fuel-efficient vehicles and autonomous cars. One plant that Trump promised to save in 2017 just closed in an Ohio townthat isn’t far from Michigan.

“He came to our community and said: ‘Don’t sell your house. These jobs are coming back,’” said David Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112. “We’ve seen nothing but job losses around here.”

Trump went on to retweet claims the economy is strong and everything in the United States is going extremely well.

[Raw Story]

Trump Ratchets Up U.S.-China Trade War With More Tariffs; Stocks Slide

President Trump announced Thursday that the United States will impose a new 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of products imported from China, saying Beijing had broken some of the promises it made in trade negotiations.

The new tariffs, which are set to take effect Sept. 1, represent another ratcheting up in trade tensions between the countries and sent stocks falling sharply. 

Major U.S. stock indexes fell about 1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 280 points. Oil prices tumbled about 8% after Trump’s announcement on concerns that the tariffs would hurt demand.

The move comes days after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin traveled to Shanghai for a brief meeting about trade with Chinese officials.

The White House said the meeting was “constructive” and negotiations were scheduled to resume in September in Washington, D.C.

But Trump indicated he was disappointed by the lack of progress in the talks, saying China had failed to follow through on promises to curb the sale of fentanyl and buy more products from U.S. farmers.

“Additionally, my friend President Xi said that he would stop the sale of Fentanyl to the United States – this never happened, and many Americans continue to die!” Trump said in a tweet.

Still, the president tried to strike a more positive tone than he has in the past, saying, “We look forward to continuing our positive dialogue with China on a comprehensive Trade Deal, and feel that the future between our two countries will be a very bright one!”

The president has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports. In May, Trump had threatened additional tariffs but suspended them at the last minute.

Now, he is going ahead with tariffs after all, though at a lower rate than before.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve cut interest rates for the first time since 2008 amid signs that the economies of the United States and other countries are slowing. The central bank also cited the uncertainty created by the standoff with China.

“Certainly, we’ve seen … that when there’s a sharp confrontation between two large economies, you can see effects on business confidence pretty quickly and on financial markets pretty quickly,” Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a news conference after the interest rate announcement.

Industry groups said the new tariffs will hurt shoppers and threaten jobs.

“We are disappointed the administration is doubling-down on a flawed tariff strategy that is already slowing U.S. economic growth, creating uncertainty and discouraging investment,” David French, vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement. “These additional tariffs will only threaten U.S. jobs and raise costs for American families on everyday goods.”

Matt Priest, head of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, said in a statement: “President Trump is, in effect, using American families as a hostage in his trade war negotiations. Tariffs are taxes and this move will noticeably raise the cost of shoes at retail and will have a chilling effect on hiring in the footwear industry.”

Trump has lately indicated that the U.S. can win a trade war with Beijing, pointing out that China’s economy has been slowing after a long period of rapid growth.

U.S. officials want China to address the theft of intellectual property, stop subsidizing its companies and open its markets to more U.S. goods.

[NPR]

Donald Trump rebuffed U.S. airlines and trade adviser in a tense Oval Office meeting

The three largest U.S. airlines presumed that President Donald Trump would take their side in a ferocious, yearslong dispute with Persian Gulf-based airlines — if they could just get his attention.

They got his attention, by way of TV ads the president saw on Fox News. But when Trump finally gathered executives from both sides of the dispute this month in the Oval Office for a heated, “Apprentice”-worthy showdown, he ultimately sided against them.

During an hour-long session, the president ribbed American Airlines CEO Doug Parker over his company’s flagging stock price, asking why it’s so low at a time when the stock market is surging. He scolded Delta Airlines, whose CEO Ed Bastian did not attend, for buying billions in planes from the European firm Airbus while Qatar Airways is buying its jets from Chicago-based Boeing Co.

And he repeatedly harped on Bastian’s absence, questioning how he could be a no-show after his airline — more than any other — had been fanning the flames of the fight.

“The president kept going back to it,” one person who attended the meeting told NBC News. “There was a lot of yelling.”

The meeting was a stark illustration of the president’s freewheeling decision-making style, particularly in areas like U.S. business where he is most confident in his own instincts.

It was also a steep blow to Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, who found himself on the losing end of a tug of war with national security adviser John Bolton, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and others in Trump’s White House.

This account draws on interviews with 10 individuals, including senior Trump administration officials, airline officials, congressional aides and others who attended or were briefed on the unusual July 18 meeting.

Those individuals, who spoke anonymously because the meeting was intended to be kept private, said nobody knew what the president would do when he sat the CEOs or their representatives from both sides of the dispute down in front of the Oval Office’s Resolute desk and asked them one by one to make their case.

For more than four years, the “Big Three” U.S. carriers — American, Delta and United Airlines — have been waging a bitter battle with Qatar Airways and two Emirati airlines over flights between the U.S. and the lucrative European market. The U.S. carriers argue that the Mideast airlines are heavily government-subsidized and are undercutting them by offering below-market fares on flights that never stop in the Middle East.

Most recently, they’ve turned their focus to Air Italy, which added new flights between Milan and the U.S. after Qatar Airways bought a 49 percent stake. The U.S. carriers say it’s a scheme to circumvent restrictions in the U.S.-Qatar “Open Skies” agreement on civil aviation.

Navarro, Trump’s hard-charging trade adviser known for his staunch protectionist views, has kept the issue alive in the White House after overseeing agreements last year to resolve previous grievances by the U.S. airlines, several administration officials said.

But as the Qataris and the U.S. airlines clashed anew this year over Air Italy, Navarro’s campaign thrust him into conflict with the rest of the White House. It drew the attention of Bolton, who enlisted Kudlow and other agencies to wrest back oversight of the issue from Navarro, people familiar with his efforts said.

[NBC News]

Trump targets French wine to retaliate for France’s digital tax

The United States will announce retaliatory action against France in response to the country’s new tax affecting American technology companies, President Donald Trump said Friday.

He suggested he could target French wine with tariffs — a move experts considered the most likely U.S. response to the French digital services tax.

“I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!” Trump tweeted.

In the tweet, the president said his administration will unveil “a substantial reciprocal action” following what he called French President Emmanuel Macron’s “foolishness.”

Earlier this month, France passed a 3% tax that will affect firms such as Facebook and Google that draw about $28 million or more in revenue from digital services in France. The Trump administration then started an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

If, after the probe, the U.S. determines the tax is discriminatory or unreasonably targets U.S. firms, Trump could respond with tariffs. Trade experts considered Trump’s most likely response a 100% tariff on French wine — one of the country’s signature, symbolic products.

In a statement Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized France’s tax but did not give any new details on what the U.S. could do to retaliate. He said the administration is “looking closely at all other policy tools” in addition to the already launched investigation as it determines how to respond to France.

“The Trump Administration has consistently stated that it will not sit idly by and tolerate discrimination against U.S.-based firms,” he said.

In a CNBC interview last month, Trump suggested he could put tariffs on French wine. He said California wine producers have complained to him about France putting higher tariffs on imports than the U.S. does. “And you know what, it’s not fair. We’ll do something about it,” he said.

France exported 3.2 billion euros (or about $3.6 billion) in wine to the U.S. last year, according to the Federation of French Wines and Spirits Exporters. The U.S. was France’s biggest wine export market.

Trump does not drink alcohol, but he is familiar with the wine industry. While in office, Trump has touted the Virginia-based Trump Winery operated by his son, Eric.

Tariffs on France would open up another conflict as Trump tries to navigate thorny trade relationships around the globe. Already in the coming months, the White House looks to push a skeptical Congress to approve Trump’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement and strike a trade deal with China.

[NBC News]

Trump tweet sparks concerns that the US may raise tariffs on Europe

U.S. President Donald Trump has accused China and Europe of manipulating their currencies, raising fears that Washington will carry out repeated threats to impose tariffs on goods from the European Union.

“Accusations of Eurozone currency manipulation are … flying from the White House with talk of tariffs on the EU and European countermeasures heating up trade tension between the two regions,” said Robert Carnell, chief economist at Dutch bank ING.

In a tweet on Wednesday morning U.S. time, Trump said: “China and Europe playing big currency manipulation game and pumping money into their system in order to compete with USA.”

He then called for easier monetary policy, adding that the U.S. should “match” the monetary policies of China and Europe.

In late May, the U.S. Commerce Department had proposed tariffs on goods from countries found to have undervalued their currencies against the dollar.

“This change puts foreign exporters on notice that the Department of Commerce can countervail currency subsidies that harm U.S. industries,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had said in a statement. “Foreign nations would no longer be able to use currency policies to the disadvantage of American workers and businesses,” he said.

[CNBC]

Trump bizarrely claims tariffs have previously paid for America’s highways and military in bonkers ‘no debt’ tweet

In a late Sunday morning tweet, President Donald Trump claimed that past administrations paid cash collected from tariffs to fund America’s military and build highways.

Skipping over U.S. taxation collections and government borrowing, the president claimed, “When our Country had no debt and built everything from Highways to the Military with CASH, we had a big system of Tariffs. Now we allow other countries to steal our wealth, treasure, and jobs – But no more! The USA is doing great, with unlimited upside into the future!”

You can see the tweet below:

[Raw Story]

Trump repeatedly flashes piece of paper he claims is part of secret Mexico deal

President Donald Trump continued to insist Tuesday that there is a secret component of his migration deal with Mexico, even flashing a piece of paper to reporters that he claimed spelled out the undisclosed portion.

“In here is the agreement,” Trump said, pulling the paper from a coat pocket and repeatedly holding it up as he spoke to reporters. “Right here is the agreement, it’s very simple. In here is everything you want to talk about, it’s right here,” he said, without opening it up.

“This is one page. This is one page of a very long and very good agreement for both Mexico and the United States,” Trump said.

“Without the tariffs, we would have had nothing,” the president said.

“Two weeks ago, I’ll tell you what we had: We had nothing. And the reason we had nothing is because Mexico felt that they didn’t have to give us anything. I don’t blame them. But this is actually ultimately going to be good for Mexico, too. And it’s good for the relationship of Mexico with us,” he continued.

Trump said he couldn’t show reporters what was on the paper. “I would love to do it, but you will freeze action it. You will stop it. You will analyze it, every single letter. You’ll see. But in here is the agreement.”

The president said that it’s his “option” as to whether the undisclosed agreement will go into effect.

“It’s not Mexico’s, but it will go into effect when Mexico tells me it’s okay to release,” Trump said, adding that first Mexico has to ratify whatever agreement they’ve made. “It goes into effect at my option.”

Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford captured and tweeted a photo of the piece of paper, a portion of which can be read to say “the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.”

Despite the president’s insistence that there is a secret deal, the Mexican government has denied that there are any undisclosed parts of the U.S.- Mexico deal.

“Outside of what I have just explained, there is no agreement,” Mexico’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday.

[ABC News]

Trump claims ‘a National Holiday would be immediately declared’ if Obama made the deals he has


President Trump
 on Sunday claimed that “a National Holiday would be immediately declared” if former President Obama made the deals on immigration and the economy that he has. 

“If President Obama made the deals that I have made, both at the Border and for the Economy, the Corrupt Media would be hailing them as Incredible, & a National Holiday would be immediately declared,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter. “With me, despite our record setting Economy and all that I have done, no credit!”

Trump in a series of tweets on Sunday morning touted his border security deal with Mexico, which averted tariffs on the U.S.’s southern neighbor, and knocked the media for its coverage of the agreement.

On Friday, he struck a deal with Mexico that called for the U.S. to drop plans to impose sweeping tariffs on the country in exchange for Mexico’s promise to crack down on illegal migration.

[The Hill]

Mexico Agreed to Take Border Actions Months Before Trump Announced Tariff Deal

 The deal to avert tariffs that President Trump announced with great fanfare on Friday night consists largely of actions that Mexico had already promised to take in prior discussions with the United States over the past several months, according to officials from both countries who are familiar with the negotiations.

Friday’s joint declaration says Mexico agreed to the “deployment of its National Guard throughout Mexico, giving priority to its southern border.” But the Mexican government had already pledged to do that in March during secret talks in Miami between Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, and Olga Sanchez, the Mexican secretary of the interior, the officials said.

The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s deal was an expansion of a program to allow asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their legal cases proceed. But that arrangement was reached in December in a pair of painstakingly negotiated diplomatic notes that the two countries exchanged. Ms. Nielsen announced the Migrant Protection Protocols during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee five days before Christmas.

And over the past week, negotiators failed to persuade Mexico to accept a “safe third country” treaty that would have given the United States the legal ability to reject asylum seekers if they had not sought refuge in Mexico first.

Mr. Trump hailed the agreement anyway on Saturday, writing on Twitter: “Everyone very excited about the new deal with Mexico!” He thanked the president of Mexico for “working so long and hard” on a plan to reduce the surge of migration into the United States.

It was unclear whether Mr. Trump believed that the agreement truly represented new and broader concessions, or whether the president understood the limits of the deal but accepted it as a face-saving way to escape from the political and economic consequences of imposing tariffs on Mexico, which he began threatening less than two weeks ago.

Having threatened Mexico with an escalating series of tariffs — starting at 5 percent and growing to 25 percent — the president faced enormous criticism from global leaders, business executives, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and members of his own staff that he risked disrupting a critical marketplace.

After nine days of uncertainty, Mr. Trump backed down and accepted Mexico’s promises.

Officials involved with talks said they began in earnest last Sunday, when Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, met over dinner with Mexico’s foreign minister. One senior government official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door negotiations that took place over several days, insisted that the Mexicans agreed to move faster and more aggressively to deter migrants than they ever have before.

Their promise to deploy up to 6,000 national guard troops was larger than their previous pledge. And the Mexican agreement to accelerate the Migrant Protection Protocols could help reduce what Mr. Trump calls “catch and release” of migrants in the United States by giving the country a greater ability to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico.

But there remains deep skepticism among some American officials — and even Mr. Trump himself — about whether the Mexicans have agreed to do enough, whether they will follow through on their promises, and whether, even if they do, that will reduce the flow of migrants at the southwestern border.

In addition, the Migrant Protection Protocols already face legal challenges by immigrant rights groups who say they violate the migrants’ right to lawyers. A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from implementing the plan, but an appeals court later said it could move forward while the legal challenge proceeds.

During a phone call Friday evening when he was briefed on the agreement, Mr. Trump quizzed his lawyers, diplomats and immigration officials about whether they thought the deal would work. His aides said yes, but admitted that they were also realistic that the surge of immigration might continue.

“We’ll see if it works,” the president told them, approving the deal before sending out his tweet announcing it.

On Saturday, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, said the government looked forward to reducing illegal immigration and making the border “strong and secure” by working with Mexico to fulfill the agreement.

Mr. Trump’s decision to use trade as a bludgeon against Mexico was driven in part by his obsession with stopping what he falsely calls an invasion of the country and in part by a desire to satisfy his core supporters, many of who have grown angry at his inability to build his promised border wall.

Many of his top advisers, including those who oversee his political and economic agendas, were opposed to the tariff threat. But the president’s ire is regularly stoked by the daily reports he receives on how many migrants have crossed the border in the previous 24 hours.

Mr. Trump’s top immigration officials had repeatedly warned the president that results from their work to curb the flow of migrants might not be evident until July, and urged patience.

But that effort became more difficult in May, when the numbers spiked to the highest levels of his presidency. During the week of May 24, 5,800 migrants — the highest ever for one day — crossed on a single day. That was quickly followed by a group of 1,036 migrants who were caught on surveillance cameras crossing the border en masse.

Mr. Trump later tweeted out the video, and the tariff threat soon followed.

Throughout the week’s negotiations, officials on both sides worried about what Mr. Trump would be willing to accept in exchange for pulling back on his tariff threat. That question hung over the talks, which were led one day by Vice President Mike Pence and included Mr. Pompeo and Mr. McAleenan.

Mexican officials opened the negotiations with the offer to deploy their new national guard troops against migrants, using a PowerPoint presentation to show their American counterparts that doing so would be a breakthrough in their ability to stop migrants from flowing north through Mexico, often in buses.

In fact, Mexican officials had already made the same promise months earlier when Ms Nielsen met in Miami with Ms. Sanchez and aides to Marcelo Ebrard, the Mexican foreign minister. The purpose of the meeting, according to people familiar with it, was to press the Mexicans to act faster.

Ms. Sanchez also told Ms. Nielsen that the Mexican government’s new national guard, which had been created just a month earlier to combat drugs and crime, would be redirected to the border with Guatemala, the entry point for most of the Central American migrants.

At the time, Ms. Nielsen and the other American negotiators referred to the Mexican promise as the “third border” plan because the Mexicans proposed creating a line of troops around the southern part of their country to keep migrants from moving north.

Mexicans had begun to follow the plan, but not quickly enough for the Trump administration, which said that only about 1,000 Mexican national guard troops were in place by May.

Friday’s agreement with Mexico states that the two countries “will immediately expand” the Migrant Protection Protocols across the entire southern border. To date, migrants have been returned at only three of the busiest ports of entry.

But officials familiar with the program said Saturday that the arrangement struck by the two countries last December always envisioned that it would expand along the entire border. What kept that from happening, they said, was the commitment of resources by both countries.

In the United States, migrants must see immigration judges before they can be sent to wait in Mexico, and a shortage of judges slowed the process. The Mexican government also dragged its feet on providing the shelter, health care, job benefits and basic care that would allow the United States to send the migrants over.

The new deal reiterates that Mexico will provide the “jobs, health care and education” needed to allow the program to expand. But the speed with which the United States can send more migrants to wait in Mexico will still depend on how quickly the government follows through on that promise.

Perhaps the clearest indication that both sides recognize that the deal might prove insufficient is contained in a section of Friday’s agreement titled “Further Action.”

One official familiar with the negotiations said the section was intended to be a serious warning to the Mexican government that Mr. Trump would be paying close attention to the daily reports he received about the number of migrants crossing the border. The official said that if the numbers failed to change — quickly — the president’s anger would bring the parties back to the negotiating table.

“The tariff threat is not gone,” the official said. “It’s suspended.”

[The New York Times]

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