Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Fox News anchor Bret Baier on Wednesday that he has drafted an executive order for President Donald Trump that would stop trade with any country doing business with North Korea — including the US’ largest trading partner, China.
The draft order comes amid increasing nuclear threats from North Korea. Earlier this month, in a tweet, Trump threatened to cut off all US trade with any country that does business with the rogue nation.
“I was just at the White House this morning talking to the president about North Korea, talking to him about sanctions, as I’ve suggested, I’ve worked on an executive order that’s ready if the president wants to use it,” Mnuchin told Baier, the host of Fox News’ “Special Report.” “We can stop trade with any country that does business with North Korea. We’re going to be careful in using these tools, but the president is committed. We will use economic sanctions to bring North Korea to the table.”
Pressed by Baier on whether he specifically meant stopping trade with China, Mnuchin said the executive order would apply to “anybody” who trades with North Korea.
“Stopping trade with anybody,” Mnuchin said. “Nobody would be off the table.”
That option, while seemingly unlikely to happen, would be a major disaster for both the US and global economies.
Many countries have some level of trade relations with North Korea. While China dominates the North Korean trade market, a number of other prominent US trading partners have a minimal economic relationship with the country.
At least 10 of the top 30 trading partners of the US do some level of business in North Korea. Those 10 nations include five of the top 10 US trading partners, and two of those are in the top three. Ending all trade with those nations would lead to the halting of roughly $US1.6 trillion in total trade, according to 2016 data, and of more than $US520 billion in US exports.
China, the nation both Trump and Mnuchin appeared to be most closely putting on notice, accounts for roughly $US600 billion in trade with the US on an annual basis. Other countries that would be affected by such a move include India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Brazil, France, Germany, Thailand, and Russia. 2015 data showed that those countries were importing goods such as silver, fork-lifts, and computers from North Korea while exporting things like pesticides, felt machinery, and sculptures.
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