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Trump elaborates executive order increases inspections for postal services for Fentanyl

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would increase inspections of sent parcels, in an attempt to knock down shipments of counterfeit goods and deadly drugs from foreign countries including China.

The order would strengthen the United States State Postal Service to increase inspections of small packages arriving in the country by air, according to several people familiar with the draft, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. It would help close a loophole that has allowed dangerous drugs such as opioid fentanyl and other contaminants to pass into the United States without control.

The measure does not specifically target China. But that comes when talks between the United States and China about a trade agreement have stagnated and when President Trump continues to accuse China of not stopping fentanyl shipments from flowing to the United States. Trump said last month that he led the Postal Service and private US companies such as FedEx, Amazon and UPS to seek parcels from China for fentanyl and waste delivery. On September 1, Trump imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports as punishment for Beijing's failure to stop fentanyl transportation and its refusal to buy more agricultural goods from the United States.

"Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop – it didn't," Mr. Trump said in a tweet last month, citing Xi Jinping, China's president

The executive order would only apply to the postal service, not private companies such as FedEx or UPS.The order is drafted to apply to all countries, although the effects would be severely affected on China, a main source of both counterfeit products and fentanyl, as well as small packages shipped to the United States.

Despite months of talks, negotiators still seem far from a comprehensive trade agreement that would resolve the Trump administration's concerns over Chinese economic practices, including its infringement of US intellectual property rights.

The two sides were at the head of a deal this spring when Chinese leaders decided that some US demands to change their laws violated too much ki Since then, Trump has gone on to tax another $ 112 billion in Chinese products and is expected to raise tariffs further in the coming weeks. China imposed additional $ 75 billion in US retaliatory goods.

Tensions between the two sides have eased somewhat in recent weeks, with Chinese officials agreeing to travel to the United States in October for the next round of talks. On Wednesday, China released a short list of US products that would be exempt from their new tariffs and said they would announce more exemptions in the coming weeks. The exceptions included cancer drugs and some chemicals that China does not produce domestically, but it did not include US exports such as pork and soybeans, which have been targeted by Beijing as punishment for Trump's tariffs.

In remarks in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump hailed the exceptions as a sign that China would soon compromise by saying that the trade war "would only get worse" and "they want to make a deal."

"They took the tariffs, some types," he said. "I think it was a gesture. It was a big move. People were shocked. I wasn't shocked."

Despite this, China and the United States seem have made little progress on the material differences that have prevented them from signing an agreement, and Chinese officials have stressed the recent changes they have made to laws governing foreign investment and intellectual property, rather than discussing the more substantial changes that Trump The administration has demanded.

Mr. Trump has ordered US companies out of China and expressed satisfaction over the damages caused by his duties to its economy. The president is expected to raise $ 250 billion in Chinese goods to 30 percent on 1 October from the current 25 percent and planning another round of customs in December.

Company executives say they are already fighting under the tariffs, and predict lower profits and pay cuts if additional fees come in. A study by the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai published on Wednesday said that the trade war is weighing its members' forecasts for revenue growth, optimism about the future and future investment plans. Moody's Analytics estimates that the trade war has already cost 300,000 US jobs, a toll that could increase to nearly 450,000 by the end of this year and nearly 900,000 jobs by the end of next year, provided Trump's planned tariff increases come into force .

In recent months, some of the focus has shifted from the terms of the actual trade agreement, where the United States and China remain silent, to whether there could be an interim agreement that would entail Chinese purchasing of US agricultural production products and smooth over relations between countries.

Chinese officials and their contacts have got the idea to restart agricultural purchases, in return for the US pushing further tariff increases and offering some relief to Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant that has been blacklisted from buying US products, said many who know thing.

Mr. Trump has been deeply frustrated with China's refusal to buy US agricultural products in recent months. The move would help the president by bending a constituency that is politically important to him and also increasingly opposes the trade war.

But such an interim agreement has also proved elusive. The president and his advisers are increasingly aware of the national security risk posed by Huawei, and are aware that they will face criticism from both Democrats and Republicans if they repent. U.S. officials may consider removing some duties in return for financial concessions from China, but they are unlikely to do so for agricultural purchases, Trump's allies said.

The Chinese, meanwhile, know that agricultural purchases would lessen the political pressure on Mr. Trump and potentially increase his chances of being re-elected, and they are unlikely to switch this source of leverage, said people familiar with their thinking.

At a Senate meeting Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two countries discussed buying soybeans, but pushed back suggestions that the United States could be easily bought.

"I have sometimes been accused of selling only soybeans. That's not what we're trying to do, "Mnuchin told lawmakers at the hearing. "We want to ensure that China treats our farmers fairly and does not retaliate against the farmers unfairly."

"As part of every discussion, we talk about ag-buying," he told reporters in comments after the hearing. "It is very important for us to defend our farmers."

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