End Offshoring of Jobs
It may seem hard to do without backing from Congress. But actually, Trump doesn't even need Congress to approve it.
Additionally, although there have not yet been any changes in policy Trump's promise has had an effect on some businesses as of December 2016.
As much as the Carrier deal in December 2016 was touted as a Trump victory against offshoring, it is worthy of note that the Carrier situation was quite different in that Trump recently had significant holdings with Carrier's parent company, United Technologies, and the company operates in Indiana - the home state of vice-president-elect Pence- and received incentives from the state as part of the deal. The deal was more about leveraging unique incentives than any Trump policy, may not have been as much of a victory as has been portrayed, and is not necessarily a sustainable approach.
As of April 2017, Trump has yet to make any moves to thwart offshoring by government contractors or to indicate support for any of the anti-offshoring legislation in Congress, including the End Outsourcing Act introduced by Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Rep. David McKinley's (R-W.Va.) Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act of 2017.
During 2018, the Trump administration enacted policies of increased tariffs, particularly against China, but also affecting North American trade partners in Canada and Mexico as well as the EU. As a response to these actions, import duties were enacted in kind against the US, prompting numerous American companies to announce job transfers, layoffs, and factory closings. Trade war impacts were seen in companies like Harley Davidson, General Motors, and many more American companies.
Dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation
In October 2016, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman directed the Donald J. Trump Foundation to stop taking donations, saying the foundation violated state law requiring charitable organizations that solicit outside donations to register with a state office. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said in December 2016 that Trump cannot shutter the foundation while the investigation is ongoing.
After more than two years of court proceedings, an agreement was reached to allow the Foundation to dissolve under judicial supervision, thus meeting the intent of Trump's promise. However, the lifting of the injunction against dissolution of the Foundation was contingent upon a legal challenge against the Foundation being allowed to continue that seeks $2.8 million in restitution, plus penalties, and a ban on Trump and his three eldest children serving on the board of any other New York nonprofit. The lawsuit rests on claims that the President and his children violated campaign finance laws and abused the Foundation's tax-exempt status.
Bring Back Coal Jobs
Coal has seen a major decline in the past eight years and Trump attributes much of this decline to excessive regulation. Trump’s vow to “end the war on coal” will start by killing the Clean Power Plan. But his administration has also vowed to scale back an EPA rule to limit ground-level ozone pollution, as well as an Interior Department rule to protect streams from coal-mining waste. In January 2016, the Obama administration implemented an immediate moratorium on new coal leases, as the program was examined to make sure it was fair to taxpayers and ecologically sensitive. Trump would end that moratorium.
The closure of coal-fired power plants and the decline in domestically consumed coal has more to do with low natural gas prices than it does with the Environmental Protection Agency, so although coal won't completely disappear it is unclear how Trump will bring back jobs that have little economic incentive to exist. Additionally, Trump is unlikely to be able to lift all of the applicable regulations, if past experience proves correct.
Additionally, a contradictory signal comes in the form of several of Trump's cabinet picks who come from oil & gas backgrounds and are unlikely to favor coal in any significant way.
The most direct action taken by the Trump administration came in June 2018 when the administration sought to use two obscure national defense related acts - Section 202 of the Federal Power Act and the Defense Production Act - to force grid providers to prioritize purchases from a designated list of coal and nuclear power providers in an attempt to bolster the revenues of such power generation facilities. The order comprises the most direct government interference in energy markets in a generation, increasing coal and nuclear energy plant operators' revenue at the expense of increased consumer price of electricity.
Ostensibly, the plan is meant to buy time to study the vulnerabilities in the US energy system, particularly with particular consideration of the effect of variable and distributed generation such as wind and solar.
Bring Back Steel Manufacturing
As with coal, steel jobs may be difficult to bring back, not because of foreign competition or regulations, but due to changes in the industry, specifically, the loss of low and medium skilled jobs to automation. Even if the industry rallies, not too many new jobs are expected to be created.
In April 2017, Trump initiated an investigation into whether the way other countries sell steel compromises U.S. national security, ostensibly to provide justification for curtailing steel imports from other nations.
Finally, in May 2018, the Trump administration imposed 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum against the EU, Canada, and Mexico. Soon after, US Steel announced 300 new jobs and a number of furnace restarts in response to the tariffs and some reports estimate that more steel jobs will be forthcoming.
Meanwhile, the EU, Canada, and Mexico retaliated with tariffs against the US covering agricultural, materials, and consumer items, many of which are designed specifically to hit economies and producers in "red state" regions of the US. The reciprocal tariffs are expected to slow the US economy due to jobs affected directly by the trade penalties being lost as well as the effect of increased costs of consumer goods in general. Estimates as to how much economic impact the tariff exchange will have, and how that might further affect steel jobs, are as yet uncertain.
Bolster the U.S. Military Presence in the East and South China Seas
Various shows of force have been staged by US naval forces since January 2017, which have been reciprocated by exercises by Chinese forces. Most of these actions have been cyclical, though in March 2018 the US did send a slightly larger force of Marines to Australia as part of an ongoing troop rotation to the region.
Renegotiate or Withdraw from NAFTA
Trump would have to bring Mexico and Canada back to the table and get Congress to approve a new deal, but the United States can withdraw from the treaty six months after giving written notice.
No action was taken on his first day in office, but on January 22nd, Trump said he had scheduled meetings with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to begin the process of renegotiation. However, Mexico's president cancelled the scheduled meeting with Trump in response to the executive order on building the Mexico wall.
Despite the tensions surrounding the wall, sources said in February 2017 that it appears the Mexico and the U.S. might be taking steps to evaluate NAFTA for renegotiation. In March 2017, signals from the administration indicated that the changes may be more modest than originally proposed by Trump.
In late April 2017, after a call with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA "at this time" and would instead look to renegotiate terms of the treaty. Over the Summer of 2017, there would be many false starts and cancellations on negotiations over the deal, but negotiators finally met in August 2017, but as late as April 2018 no significant movement had been made.
A burst of negotiations in April and May 2018 failed to move much further owing to what some business groups called "poison pills" - demands that the other parties in the negotiations could not possibly accept. Additionally, in late May 2018, US tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada, and Mexico threatened a trade war that could cast further doubt on the negotiating process.
The process is still ongoing.
Withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The deal was never approved by Congress and never had sufficient support in the House of Representatives to be passed following its February 2016 signing, so Trump will not have to do anything to get out of the pact.
He didn't follow through on his first day in office, but on January 23rd, Trump signed a presidential memorandum withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement.
However, in April 2018, Trump asked two of his economic advisers to explore rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, possibly in an attempt to modify the agreement.
Label China a Currency Manipulator
As of 21 January, 2017, after a full 24 hours in office, this promise had not been addressed.
Meanwhile, in late February 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled no urgency to designate China a currency manipulator, saying he wants to use a regular review of foreign-exchange markets in April to determine if the U.S.’s largest trading partner is cheating.
In an April 2017 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said his administration won’t label China a currency manipulator in a report to be published. A year later, the Treasury Department maintained that it would not label China a currency manipulator. Days later, an accusation in a Trump tweet seemed to counter his own administration's statement, but was unclear enough in context to know for sure what he was considering "unacceptable."
Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2018
As of June 2018 there has been no official designation of China as a currency manipulator.
Initiate Trade Complaints Against China
In January 2017, Trump nominated Robert Lighthizer for U.S. Trade Representative. Lighthizer has been an outspoken critic of modern trade policies with China and his nomination seemed to indicate an intent by the incoming administration to follow through on an aggressive trade policy with China.
In April 2017, Trump ordered commerce secretary Wilbur Ross to initiate a 90 day trade study to examine deficits “country by country and product by product” to assess the extent they are caused by “cheating or inappropriate behavior.” The study could be seen as a nod to evaluating trade with China specifically.
In March 2018, the US officially announced a trade complaint against China in the WTO. The action is a result of an investigation spurred by Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, launched in August 2017.
Impose Tariffs on Chinese Imports
After many months of vacillation and ongoing trade negotiations, in May 2018, the administration announced a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods focused on the tech sectors and high-growth industries identified in China's "Made in China 2025" program. The final announcement is supposed to be released on June 15th with no firm date on implementation of any tariffs. Also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said tariffs on Chinese goods were "on hold," presumably due to his imminent trade negotiations in China in mid-June.
Puzzlingly, the announcement comes on the heels of an administration-negotiated easing of sanctions on Chinese phone manufacturer ZTE. As of this time it is unclear whether the tariffs are simply a negotiating ploy or a true threat.