Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China

Updated: Aug 24, 2019

August 23, 2019

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering “our great American companies” to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”


Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”


And Trump said that he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.


The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.


It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.


Equities sunk to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.


Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.


In an apparent response, Trump tweeted:  “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?


Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The newly announced import taxes represented the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.


Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.


Trump was scheduled to leave for France on Friday night to participate in the multilateral G7 summit this weekend.


The president had long declared Xi a friend, and had repeatedly said he blames past U.S. leaders, not China, for the unfair trade situation between the two economic superpowers.


Trump held that line even after talks between the two sides’ negotiators broke down in May. “My respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited,” he said at the time.


But after China’s new round of tariffs, and Powell’s apparently unsatisfying remarks at an annual central bank event in Jackson Hole, Trump’s tune changed.


“As usual, the Fed did NOTHING! It is incredible that they can ‘speak’ without knowing or asking what I am doing, which will be announced shortly,” Trump tweeted.


“I will work ‘brilliantly’ with both” a strong dollar and a weak Fed, Trump assured, before adding: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”