White House officials confirm President Trump can block U.S. companies from operating in China

Campbell Kwan for ZDNet:

Two White House officials confirmed that President Donald Trump has the power to force US companies to move their operations out of China, but clarified that no official order has yet been made by the US government.

“There’s nothing right now in the cards. Ultimately we do have such authority but it is not going to exercised presently,” White House economic director Larry Kudlow told CNN on Sunday. “What he is suggesting to American businesses and it’s something he’s said to many different companies in many different forms and many different occasions — you ought to think about moving your operations and supply chains away from China and secondly, we’d like you to come back home.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shared similar comments to those made by Kudlow in an interview with Fox News Sunday, saying the president has “lots of options.” …According to the White House officials, the ability to force US companies to move their operations and supply chains from China would fall under the scope of the [Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977].

Under the Emergency Economic Powers Act, the US president has the power to regulate the commerce of US companies if a national emergency is declared against an “unusual and extraordinary threat”. This would trigger a special authority for the president to regulate “any transactions in foreign exchange” by Americans. While Trump has ordered various tariffs against China during the trade war, he has yet to declare a national emergency in respect to Chinese trade.

MacDailyNews Take: Seems more like a negotiating tactic than actually invoking the International Emergency Economic Powers Act in order to compel U.S. companies to move their operations out of China.

24 Comments

    1. Context.

      Trump isn’t facing an oil embargo literally bringing US consumers and businesses to a halt. This is something the “worst president ever” claimers always conveniently forget. Today’s “conservatives” seem to want a shooting war whenever they need to goose the economy. Perhaps they are too stupid to know that the real mission — peace and prosperity — is never accomplished. It takes enormous efforts in diplomacy and multilateral economic compromise. Speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Something the current administration completely lacks.

    1. You conveniently ignore the theft of untold billions of U.S. IP by China, including most if not all of Apple’s patented innovations.

      1. Sarah:

        Reblogging the orange fuhrer’s tweets does not bolster your case. Tweets are not action.

        Please show us when the Trump administration took any Chinese company to court.
        Please show us when the Trump administration proposed more stringent WTO trading rules.
        Please show us when Trump attempted to work with other European, Asian, and N&S American trade allies to hold the line against China and rigorously enforce international IP theft laws.
        Please show us what other emerging economies are cutting their trade with China (if not increasing it since China has lowered its currency valuation).
        Please show us what US businesses are projecting an end to the Trump malaise, the supposed light at the end of the tunnel. Is there really a gain after creating worldwide economic pain?
        Please also show us when unilateral tariffs have ever resulted in greater prosperity for the US.

        How about you review the past time the US so brazenly jacked up tariffs: http://americastradepolicy.com/did-the-smoot-hawley-tariff-cause-the-great-depression/
        Bill Krist notes in this short summary that “From 1929 to 1933 American exports declined from about $5.2 billion to $1.7 billion … As a result, many American farmers defaulted on their loans, which in turn particularly affected small rural banks.”

        Does this sound familiar?

        Krist concludes: “In today’s world where Central Banks have been pumping out liquidity and inflating stocks, similar to the case in the 1920s, we must hope that we don’t repeat the mistake of Smoot-Hawley.”

        I concur with Krist, and have yet to hear a compelling long term economic case from the Trump administration. After all, this is an administration that claimed it would balance the budget and instead has blown up debt and spending to historic levels well beyond the unfortunate recession-busting spending that the prior administration signed (at bilateral urging).

        If you want to stop IP theft, THEN INTERVENE ON RECKLESS US CORPORATE BEHAVIOR.

        Tariffs do three things:

        1) They shelter uncompetitive local businesses from the challenge of international competition – a long term recipe for disaster

        2) They raise prices for US consumers.

        3) They take US resources and labor that could be devoted to high-wage work (with training of course) and reallocate them to do low wage menial labor. There is a balance, of course, but because US worker training is so poor, the high tech industries are constantly begging for more visas to get international workers which are better trained for stuff like software development and circuit design. The Trump administration doesn’t understand this and is also cutting off the inflow of “good” immigrants with the “bad”, while offering no federal worker retraining programs that Ivanka’s photo-op business roundtable with Tim Apple in the room SPECIFICALLY asked for.

        While you blame the last decade of economic growth on Obama, I recommend you also blame the end of that growth on your orange “chosen one”. His debt spending, bullying of the Fed, and hapless floundering in the face of cheap international competition has resulted in nothing but business chaos. Farmers are already on public assistance. Steel and coal industries firing workers. 5.5% decline in manufacturing investment for 2019. Trade in shambles. No new NAFTA agreement or any other international treaty signed. Instead the citizens of the US get a daily dose of barely coherent tweets.

        Now the administration claims that it has the power to be socialist oligarchs, because they created an emergency. That goes against everything the MAGA hat folks have been claiming they stand for.

        ical opportunity for you Sarah: Mistakes made in the last 3 years will take many more years to recover. Pick a handful of economic indicators that affect all citizens, I guarantee most of them will be worse when Trump leaves office than they were on his arrival.

      2. Exactly, Mike. It isn’t an emergency unless it came up so suddenly and unexpectedly that there was no time to use the ordinary Constitutional process of passing legislation or negotiating treaties. This situation has been obvious for years. As they say, “Negligence on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

        The previous couple of administrations, from both parties, had a plan for dealing with China—building a coalition with all the other major Asia-Pacific countries to contain the economic and political expansion of the People’s Republic. The current Administration threw all that effort away within 72 hours of taking office and chose to go it alone. If it hasn’t worked, that isn’t an emergency; it was the foreseeable consequence of US policy.

      3. Yes indeed, Sarah. Your tweet-storm RECAP clearly speaks volumes clearly showing Trump has been working on this problem for some time.

        Typical reaction from the left calling him degrading orange names, minutiae differences in his technique and overall ZERO SUPRY.

        I find it hard to fathom anyone with a particle of fairness should NOT denigrate him and SAD they neglect neglect to say thank for working on this for the American people.

        Obama did NOTHING. Bush Did NOTHING. Clinton started the trade imbalance with NAFTA and did NOTHING to manage it for the American people. The only winners were the fat cat Democrat donors to their party. Shameful!!!

        All hail the president to go where no no president has gone before…

        1. Obama won DOZENS of cases in the WTO. apparently the only reason you didn’t bother to learn about this from your daily tweetstorms and faux state media dripfeed.

          meanwhile Trump is too busy tweeting to get old Moscow Mitch to call up a vote for the supposedly amazing new NAFTA replacement deal. so to date Trump has ZERO international deals. at the rate he’s going pissing off everyone else, he may not ever get one. get a f’ing clue, goeb.

          1. “meanwhile Trump is too busy tweeting to get old Moscow Mitch to call up a vote”

            Bull 💩! So, naturally your first graf praising Obama for winning NOTHING with more opinion unless you provide links to back up your claims. Never mind, whatever…

  1. ??????? The Gentry class, the Ivy League, the Bosses, the Manager’s made the decisions that put us, America here, and all English speaking countries share the same sellout anti worker genes…..

    iL Duce isn’t going to help that, the Pinkertons (with iL Duce) won a long time ago with half the population behind them..

  2. Another stupid idea by the orange monkey to bolster his ego, economy and consumers be damned. Hey monkey, you forgot what your supposed party was for, smaller government, maybe your a democrat in disguise.

  3. There is broad agreement that China’s flagrant intellectual property theft and forcing companies to hand over trade secrets as a cost of doing business in China has to stop. This fight would be far more effective if the US had allies, but treasonous Trump has chosen to alienate our allies and make friends with our enemies. The Trans-Pacific Partnership wasn’t perfect, but it would have given the US a powerful weapon to force China to conform to international standards.

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