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Trade deals, procurement to be reviewed: US officials

US president preparing new executive orders on trade to aid American companies

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is preparing new executive orders to re-examine all 14 US free trade agreements and review government procurement policies to aid American companies, two administration officials said.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Mexico and Canada will top the list of trade deals to be reviewed, which will affect 20 countries from the Americas to Asia, the officials told Reuters.

They said on Wednesday that the trade deal and procurement review orders were among several executive actions that the Trump administration is preparing on trade.

The timing of the orders is unclear, but they could start to be rolled out next week, the officials said.

Politico first reported the plan for the two orders, quoting a senior administration official as saying the trade orders would help shift the White House narrative "to a place where the president can really shine".

The fate of Mr Donald Trump's first major legislative effort in Congress, a measure to replace the 2010 Obamacare health law, remains uncertain amid stiff opposition from conservative Republicans.

The House of Representatives had to delay a vote on the bill on Thursday due to insufficient support for the legislation.

The orders to review existing trade deals and public procurement policies would be largely symbolic, as the administration had already announced its intention to renegotiate Nafta, with plans to formally notify Congress of its intention to launch talks in the coming weeks.

'IMPROVE'

Early last month, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said: "We're going to re-examine all the current trade deals, figure out if we can improve them."

The US bilateral and multilateral trade deals cover these countries: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Peru, Singapore and South Korea.

Mr Trump's trade officials, including White House adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, have long said Nafta's rules-of-origin provisions need to be tightened to exclude more components from outside the trading bloc.

Nafta requires cars and trucks to have only 62.5 per cent North American content, providing significant opportunities for Asian manufacturers to provide parts. - REUTERS

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