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Aug. 25, 2019, 7:36 p.m. EDT

Aides say Trump not ordering U.S. companies to leave China — just suggesting

Mnuchin says no plans to invoke emergency order

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By Jessica Donati


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President Donald Trump could theoretically force U.S. companies to leave China by invoking a law known as the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.

WASHINGTON — Aides to President Donald Trump said Sunday he has no plans to invoke emergency powers and force companies to relocate operations from China, two days after his Friday tweet that they were “hereby ordered” to look for alternative locations.

The president’s top economic adviser, Lawrence Kudlow, told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that Trump didn’t intend to issue an order. Trump’s comments Friday came after Beijing announced new levies on U.S. imports, and stocks tumbled in response to the news.

“What he is suggesting to American businesses,” Kudlow said, is that “you ought to think about moving your operations and your supply chains away from China and secondly, we’d like you to come back home.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also weighed in, telling Fox News Sunday that the president didn’t have plans to invoke emergency powers to force U.S. companies out of China. “I think what he was saying is he’s ordering companies to start looking,” Mnuchin said. “He wants to make sure to the extent that we are in an extended trade war, that companies don’t have these issues and move out of China.”

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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