WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would increase inspections of mailed packages in an effort to crack down on shipments of counterfeit goods and deadly drugs from foreign nations, including China.

The order would empower the US Postal Service to increase inspections of small packages that arrive in the country by air, according to several people familiar with the draft, who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly. That would help to close a loophole that has allowed dangerous drugs like the opioid fentanyl and other contraband to pass into the United States unchecked.


The measure is not aimed specifically at China. But it comes as talks between the United States and China about a trade deal have stagnated and as President Trump continues to accuse China of failing to stop shipments of fentanyl from flowing into the United States. Trump said late last month that he was directing the Postal Service and private US companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS to search packages from China for fentanyl and refuse delivery. On Sept. 1, Trump slapped more tariffs on Chinese imports as punishment for Beijing’s failure to stop fentanyl shipments and its refusal to buy more agricultural goods from the United States.

“Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop — it didn’t,” Trump said in a tweet last month, referring to Xi Jinping, China’s president.

The executive order would apply solely to the Postal Service, not private companies like FedEx or UPS. The order is drafted to apply to all countries, though the effects would fall most heavily on China, a major source of both counterfeit products and fentanyl as well as small packages shipped into the United States.

Despite months of talks, negotiators still appear far from a comprehensive trade deal that would resolve the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese economic practices, including its infringement on US intellectual property.


Trump has ordered US companies out of China and expressed satisfaction at the damage his tariffs are wreaking on its economy. The president yesterday said he would delay from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 plans to increase tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30 percent from the current 25 percent. He still plans another round of tariffs in December.

Business leaders say they are already struggling under the tariffs, and predict lower profits and wage cuts if further levies go into place. A poll by the US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai published Wednesday said the trade war was weighing on its members’ projections for revenue growth, optimism about the future, and future investment plans. Moody’s Analytics estimates that the trade war has already cost 300,000 US jobs, a toll that could increase to nearly 450,000 by the end of this year and nearly 900,000 jobs by the end of next year, assuming Trump’s planned tariff hikes go into effect.