Mexico: Curtis Washington Trade Update – May 2017

On his 100th Day in Office President Trump Signs Two Executive Orders Relating to Trade: One Establishing a New Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, the Other to Review Trade Agreements for Violations

President Trump signed two executive orders on his 100th day in office relating to trade. The first established a new Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy (OTMP) within the White House, to be directed by Peter Navarro, who was originally selected to direct the National Trade Council. The goal of this new office is to "defend and serve American workers and domestic manufacturers while advising the President on policies to increase economic growth, decrease the trade deficit, and strengthen the United States manufacturing and defense industrial bases." According to the order, the Director – Mr. Navarro – will "serve as a liaison between the White House and the Department of Commerce and undertake trade-related special projects as requested by the President."

The second order directs the Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to review all U.S. trade agreements and identify violations or abuses of such agreements within 180 days. It also directs these agencies to identify "unfair treatment by trade and investment partners that is harming American workers or domestic manufacturers ... " and "instances where a trade agreement, investment agreement, trade relation, or trade preference program has failed with regard to such factors as predicted new jobs created, favorable effects on the trade balance, expanded market access, lowered trade barriers, or increased United States exports". The White House said in a fact sheet that the Commerce Department and USTR will report on problems found in the review as well as possible solutions to them, although the Administration "will not wait 180 days to take action on trade abuses."

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tied the new order to the recently issued executive order on trade deficits, asking, "Of all the possible causes" of those deficits, "what portion of the problem is attributable to the various trade agreements?" Mr. Ross also said that the review will pay close attention to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which he characterized as an outdated organization with structural problems that the review may attempt to address.

Commerce Department Initiates Two Section 232 Investigations for Steel and Aluminum

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has initiated two investigations under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 – one investigating the effects of steel imports on U.S. national security and another on the effects of aluminum imports on U.S. national security. Section 232 is a rarely used statute that authorizes the President to impose import restrictions to protect national security. Under the statute, the Commerce Department conducts an investigation and issues a recommendation, and the President then decides whether to take action, and if so, in what form.

Following the initiation of each of these investigations, the President signed a presidential memorandum asking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to expedite the investigation. These memoranda overall contain very similar language, with slight differences in the first section regarding "policy." According to the first memorandum regarding steel, the President stated that "[t]he United States has placed more than 150 antidumping and countervailing duty orders on steel products, but they have not substantially alleviated the negative effects that unfairly traded imports have had on the United States steel industry." Further, "[t]he artificially low prices caused by excess capacity and unfairly traded imports suppress profits in the American steel industry, which discourages long-term investment in the industry and hinders efforts by American steel producers to research and develop new and better grades of steel."

Regarding aluminum, the President's memorandum states "[i]n the case of aluminum, both the United States and global markets for aluminum products are distorted by large volumes of excess capacity much of which results from foreign government subsidies and other unfair practices. Efforts to work with other countries to reduce excess global overcapacity have not succeeded."

If Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, after working with the Defense Department and other agencies as necessary during the investigation, determines that aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security," the president then has 90 days to determine whether he concurs -- and to take action to "adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives" or make non-trade-related moves. Such actions must be made no later than 15 days after the president determines a response is warranted.

The President has broad powers under section 232 to impose trade remedies like tariffs and quotas or otherwise to protect the domestic industry through measures aimed at supporting U.S. producers. The last time the Department conducted a Section 232 investigation was in 2001, when the Department concluded that subject imports of steel did not threaten to impair national security. The last action taken by a President to restrict imports after a 232 investigation was in 1982, when President Reagan embargoed all crude oil produced in Libya.

President Trump Issued Executive Order to Bolster "Buy American" and "Hire American" Policies

With the issuance of a separate Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, President Trump took a step toward a fulfilling a campaign promise to limit the use of foreign workers and promote the purchase of U.S.-sourced materials. According to a press release from the White House, the President believes that reform is needed to support American workers and that the rules associated with America's trade deals and immigration policies unfairly place American companies and workers at a disadvantage. The press release goes on to explain that the Executive Order targets the abusive use of waivers and exceptions that undermine "Buy American" laws meant to promote American companies.

We note that after the report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in March, discussed in an earlier Washington Trade Update, several Senators pushed for President Trump to address this very issue. Further, the President's press release cites the findings of the GAO as support for its assertion that the "United States is not getting its fair share of the global government procurement market through the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement."

The Executive Order instructs every agency and department to conduct a comprehensive assessment aimed at cracking down on weak monitoring or enforcement of Buy American policies, as well as promoting efforts to strengthen compliance with those policies. According to the Order, the Commerce Secretary must prepare, by November 24th, a report for the President that includes "specific recommendations to strengthen implementation of Buy American Laws, including domestic procurement preference policies and program."

The President also ordered a review of America's involvement in the WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement and other trade deals to ensure they meet the "President's standards." The President mandated for the first time that the Buy American bidding process must take into account other countries' unfair trade practices. Finally, regarding the "Buy American agenda", the President's order seeks to promote American-made steel by affirming the "melted and poured" standard for steel production in the United States. Trump's directive stipulates that "produced" in the U.S. means that "all manufacturing processes, from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings" must occur in the United States.

Regarding the President's agenda for "hire America", the Executive Order calls on the executive branch to enforce the laws governing the entry of foreign workers into the U.S. economy in order to promote rising wages and more employment. It also directs federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B program in order to shift the program back to its original intent and prevent the displacement of American workers.

With Trump's Presidency, There Has Been an Uptick in Initiated Trade Investigations in 2017

As we pass the 100-day mark on Mr. Trump's Presidency we note the dramatic impact his administration has had on trade-related investigations. Trump pledged on the campaign trail to be more vigilant on trade enforcement and compliance, and in 2017 we have indeed seen a significant increase in initiated investigations. In all of 2016 there were 50 initiated investigations, while in just the first four months of 2017 there have been 18 initiated investigations (suggesting an annual rate of 72).

These cases include investigations under infrequently used statutes, such as Section 232 regarding national security and Section 201 governing global safeguards. Others have been initiated under the antidumping and countervailing duty provisions of Title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, which have been used more frequently recently than in previous years.

USTR Nominee Robert Lighthizer Received Unanimous Support from Senate Finance Committee and Will Now Move to a Vote from the Full Senate

President Trump nearly has his nominee for U.S. Trade Representative in place, after the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously to approve Lighthizer's appointment and to provide the statutory waiver that has so far been controversial among Senators. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the full Senate vote for Lighthizer will not occur until the waiver and miners benefits bill are approved, which are expected to be dealt with as part of a continuing resolution to fund the government. Despite considerable talk about NAFTA renegotiations, we expect that real movement on the renegotiation will not begin until Lighthizer is confirmed as the USTR. We also note that while Lighthizer's nomination is key for U.S. trade happenings, President Trump still – 100 days in – has to nominate 468 "key positions" that require Senate confirmation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions