The President ignored the questions and moved to another room, only to be chased by Vice President Mike Pence, who picked up the folders containing the two executive orders.

Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump had vowed to put America's trading relationship with the world on a more advantageous basis and put "America first".

"I am not beholden to any political or financial interest, I don't care", Trump said Friday. Some experts say the orders suggest the president may be taking a softer tack on trade. These new orders are proof of that mission, he said.

Trump declared that the two orders would start a "great revival" for US manufacturing, repeating his campaign message that trade pacts have caused factory jobs to flow overseas.

The officials said that the Trump administration will produce a sweeping report on the cause of USA trade deficits as well as plans to improve trade enforcement and the collection of billions in import taxes as part of the effort to bolster US manufacturing.

Coupled together, the orders appear to be a symbolic shot at China, which accounted for the vast majority - $347 billion - of last year's $502 billion trade deficit.

Among the key questions that will be addressed during the 90-day investigation will be "the extent to which our bilateral deficit with that country is the result of cheating or other inappropriate behaviour", Ross said.

A statement from the White House said Trump and Xi will discuss global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual concern.

Mr Ross argued that the United States has the lowest tariff rates of any developed country.

Reading out the list of countries with which the United States has significant trade deficit, Ross also named India down the line with a trade deficit of $24 billion.

Officials will consider the impact on deficits of trade abuses, non-reciprocal trade practices, specific trade obligations, poor or inconsistent enforcement and World Trade Organization rules.

Trump was highly critical of North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada during the campaign and frequently cited statistics about falling manufacturing numbers when he stumped around the country.

"In some cases, it will simply be that they are better at making the product or can do it far cheaper than we can". These include trade abuses such as dumping of goods below costs and unfair subsidies, "nonreciprocal" trade practices by other countries and currencies that are "misaligned".

The first executive order will launch a wide-ranging review of the USA trade deficit with the goal of identifying forms of "trade abuse" that have contributed to the deficit.

The executive orders came a week after Trump's promise to replace Obamacare imploded in Congress and a week before he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida, a summit that promises to be fraught with trade tensions.

But if Ross and Navarro were at pains not to cast China in a bad light during the briefing, Trump had no such reservations Thursday.

Ross had pointed out that the United States' largest trade deficit is with China, but that fact was simply meant to be used as a reference and not a ranking of targets.

"This is a story about trade abuses".

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