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Trump signs executive orders to tackle trade abuses ahead of meeting with Xi

US President Donald Trump on Friday signed two executive orders aimed at combating foreign trade abuses that cause the US' large trade deficit, a week before his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The first executive order directs the US Commerce Department to take 90 days to review the causes of the US' trade deficits with its trade partners and violations of trade rules that harm US workers.

The second executive order urges stricter enforcement of American anti-dumping and anti-subsidy laws to prevent foreign makers from undercutting American companies by selling goods at unfair prices.

The signing of the executive orders is widely interpreted as a sign that Trump would be tough on Xi over trade during their first meeting.

Trump said that many cities and towns he visited during his presidential campaign were "devastated by unfair trade policies".

"Under my administration, the theft of American prosperity will end," the president said, adding that the US' industry will be defended and a level playing field for the American workers will be created.

Trump also said that the executive orders ensure "that we fully collect all duties imposed on foreign importers that cheat, the cheaters."

Peter Navarro, director of the National Trade Council, insisted that the measures were not aimed at putting China on notice ahead of the first meeting between the two leaders.

However, Trump on Thursday tweeted that "the meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits."

In the 2017 National Trade Estimate Report published on Friday, the Office of the US Trade Representative called the theft of trade secrets a "serious problem" whose perpetrators "operate with impunity", and accused the Chinese government and military of being "affiliated" with people who have down it.

China has been at the center of Trump's ire on trade, especially on the deficit, which decreased $20.1 billion last year to $347 billion and has often been subject to the US' anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes.

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