White House Issues Executive
Orders on Trade Agreement
Violations and New Office for
Trade and Manufacturing Policy
Trump administration is better poised to identify trade abuse than its predecessors.
By Peter G. Mayberry, Contributing Editor
By including international trade as a primary component of the“America First”policy during his inaugural address, President Donald Trump sounded several themes—both in
terms of negotiated trade deals and unfair trade practices committed by U.S. trading partners—that were familiar from his ral-lies on the campaign trail. Making good on international trade
campaign pledges, one of the President’s first official acts was to
suspend U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
negotiations two days after he assumed office.
Since then, President Trump signed 90 Executive Orders (EO)
during his first 100 days in office, nearly a half dozen of which
relate to international trade issues in some way, shape or form.
On April 29, President Trump signed Executive Order 13796 that
addresses“violations and abuses” of international trade by U.S.
trading partners; as well as EO 13797 which creates a new Of-
fice of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (OTMP) within the White
House. For members of the nonwovens industry, these actions
appear to be designed to demonstrate that the Trump Adminis-
tration is better able to identify trade violations and abuses—as
well as solutions to those violations – than previous administra-
tions. One area of historical concern to the nonwovens industry
on these issues is protection of intellectual property rights are in-
tended to deter trade in counterfeits, knock-offs and much more.
Also, by creating OTMP, the Trump Administration may be giving members of the nonwoven fabrics industry some new and
unique opportunities to get more deeply involved in international trade policy issues moving forward.
With regard to the Executive Order on trade violations and
abuses, EO 13796, the document begins with several paragraphs
regarding international trade agreement before addressing the
issue of intellectual property protection, affirming that the U.S.
should renegotiate or terminate any trade measures that harm
the U.S. economy, business and intellectual property rights. The
means to reach those ends are outlined in the next four sections
of the document, beginning with Section 2, which directs the
Secretary of Commerce and the U. S. Trade Representative (USTR)
– in consultation with other offices – to work together and conduct comprehensive performance reviews of trade agreements
to which the U.S. is a party as well as all trade relations with
countries governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) with which the U.S. does not have free trade agreements.
Meanwhile, under Section 3, performance reviews were due
Senate Confirms New U.S. Trade Rep
The United States Senate voted 82-14 on May 11, 2017, to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the next United States Trade Representative – veteran DC trade attorney Robert Lighthizer. The Office of the USTR is an arm of the White House responsible for representing U.S. interests in all
international trade negotiations.
Mr. Lighthizer served as Deputy USTR during the Reagan administration, and is known for his “unorthodox,” style of tough-nosed negotiating style.
As a lawyer, Politico reports that Lighthizer has represented U.S. Steel Corp. and other domestic giants in their efforts to keep foreign steel imports at
bay; and cites his previous role as chief of staff on the Senate Finance Committee who later served as Treasurer for Sen. Bob Dole’s Presidential campaign
With Lighthizer in place, the White House is now in position to trigger the formal process for beginning renegotiation of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) should it chose to do so. It is not immediately clear, however, when, or if, the Trump Administration will begin that process.