Trump Preparing to Unleash Massive International Policy Change.

President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to unveil an aggressive trade crackdown in the coming weeks that is likely to include new tariffs aimed at countering China’s and other economic competitors’ alleged unfair trade practices, according to three administration officials.

Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers as soon as this week to begin finalizing decisions on a slew of pending trade fights involving everything from imports of steel and solar panels to Chinese policies regarding intellectual property, according to one of the administration officials.

Senior aides are also laying plans to use Trump’s State of the Union address at the end of the month to flesh out the president’s trade vision and potentially preview a more aggressive posture toward China, according to the official.

Aides stressed that the specifics are still in flux, but multiple officials told POLITICO that internal conversations have moved beyond the basic question of whether Trump should take tough trade steps and are now focused on what precise measures the president should impose.

By turning to trade, Trump is returning to a key campaign pledge that many advisers worry he did not deliver on in his first year in office. And with limited prospects for passing legislation, trade is one of a handful of major policy areas on which the president can act without having to rely on Congress.

Aides said the upcoming closed-door trade meetings with the president will help shed more light on his thinking. Trump’s senior advisers have been fighting behind the scenes for months over the direction of his trade agenda, but officials on both sides of the debate said it remained unclear exactly how aggressive the president was prepared to be.

 

One official said the president is “undecided and could come out any number of ways.” Still, it is “very likely” that the president will greenlight tariffs of some kind in the coming weeks, the official added, a move that could prompt severe blowback from targeted countries.