The White House to due to launch an investigation into Ireland’s tax affairs after it was identified as one of a number of countries with a “chronic” trade surplus with the United States.
It’s thought that the reason for Ireland’s surplus is mostly accounted for by pharmaceutical products. Much of the world’s supply of viagra, for instance, is produced in the small village of Ringaskiddy in Co. Cork.
President Trump is due to imminently sign two executive orders, one ordering an investigation into trade policies and a second that will require duties to be paid on cheap goods sold in the US.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has Irish roots and has in the past made significant investments in the Bank of Ireland, announced that Ireland was the country with the fifth largest trade surplus - a total $36 billion last year.
Also in the administration’s sight is China with a surplus of $347 billion, Japan with $69 billion, followed by Germany with $65 billion and the President’s favorite bête noire Mexico which has a surplus of $63 billion.
Secretary Ross said the study would be completed within three months and would examine “country by country, product by product” how and why each country managed to sell more goods to America than the US sold to them.
President Trump made reform of American trade policy of cornerstone of his election campaign last year and with that in mind Peter Navarro, the director of the National Trade Council, insisted “for the first time, we’re looking comprehensively at the source of what has been a large and persistent trade deficit that has contributed to job losses, the loss of our manufacturing base and other things.”
The executive order comes just at China’s President Xi Jinping is due fly into Florida for a visit to Mar-a-Lago, the so-called ‘Winter White House’.
However despite the upcoming visit and the President’s known hostility to China’s economic policies, Navarro insisted that the timing was coincidental and the People’s Republic was not being singled out.
“Nothing we are saying tonight is about China,” Navarro insisted. “This is a story about trade abuses, this is a story about under-collection of duties, this is a story about 40 countries that basically subsidize their products unfairly and send them into our country or dump their products.”
H/T: Irish Times