Donald Trump and his court appear to believe that the president has near absolute power over trade. After Trump ordered tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted that Trump could alter the tariffs or impose quotas or “do anything he wishes at any point.”
Trump recently launched an investigation to limit car imports on “national security” grounds and reportedly told French President Macron that he aims to push German carmakers out of the American market altogether.
But Trump and his team are mistaken. Under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, Congress has the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” The president’s powers over trade — including his authority to enter into trade agreements and impose tariffs — are delegated by Congress under various laws.