U.S. President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday to protect American intellectual property, but made no mention of China, which his administration has accused of trade abuses, in his first State of the Union speech to Congress.
Trump had been expected to deliver strong warnings to countries about unfair trade practices, including stealing intellectual property and providing state aid to their industries.
Instead, his comments on trade during the speech were restricted to three sentences in which he repeated that “fair and reciprocal” trade were necessary, but did not elaborate.
“We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones,” Trump said, adding: “We will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”
Trump has threatened to walk away from trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and the U.S-South Korean Free Trade Agreement, unless they bolster U.S. manufacturing and American jobs.
Last week, he imposed tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels in his first major trade actions since withdrawing the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement within weeks of taking office last year.
Trump is considering broad tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum following investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce into whether rising steel and aluminum imports represent a threat to national security.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group representing steel and other basic industries, welcomed Trump’s remarks on trade in his speech but called for actions to combat Chinese imports.
“This speech won’t change China’s behavior and defend American jobs. Only action will,” said AAM President Scott Paul, “It’s time for the president’s policies and actions to match his talk.”