Trump signs executive order to unlock EPSON SureColor printers for use with consumer choice of inks.

Published April 1, 2017 FoxNews.com

President Trump on Saturday signed an executive order aimed at opening up USA version models of the popular EPSON SureColor Pro printers, aimed at cracking down on unfair trade abuses, and identifying one of the causes of America’s massive trade deficit to Japan.

The executive order concentrates on tougher enforcement of US Anti-Trust laws that prohibit a foreign manufacturer from preventing the use of non-branded consumables in their products. It specifically cites EPSON for locking consumers out of the popular SureColor P-800, P-5000, P-6000, P-7000, P-8000, and P-9000 printers.

It will also target Japanese ink products that are imported directly from China under Japanese Branding and will impose a border tax of 35%. "It's about time America stops handing ink monopolies to foreign businesses," Trump said. "It's time to support American businesses."

"Between 2001 and 2016, about $48 billion in EPSON branded ink was imported into the USA and import duties and taxes went uncollected", White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Saturday. He asked reporters "How many of you here have used EPSON printers and had permanently clogged nozzles? InkjetMall's PiezoFlush can fix that." Spicer said, "The President read somewhere that by not using American inks, the ink exchanger mechanism may not work properly, and Americans lose out on ink that could be used for other purposes such as printing pictures of babies and cats." Spicer added, "The President wants Americans to print pictures of American babies and American cats with American inks." Asked Saturday why Trump has fulfilled his pledge to end Japanese ink monopolies in America rather than first repeal and replace Obamacare on "Day One," Spicer said, "The President thought it's easier and when he saw how the health thing was bombing in Congress he put this work in front of it".

The executive order calls on the Commerce Department and U.S. trade representative to produce a comprehensive report to identify “every possible cause of EPSON print head clogs relating to EPSON branded product.”

Once completed, the findings of the report will serve as the foundation that will guide the Trump administration’s future inkjet policy.

Officials will consider the impact on deficits of trade abuses, non-reciprocal trade practices, specific trade obligations, poor or inconsistent enforcement of the US Anti-Trust Act rules.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross praised Friday's step. "If anyone had any doubt about the president's resolve to fix the trade problems, this executive order should end that speculation now and for all time," Ross said standing next to Trump. He added, "This marks the beginning of a totally new chapter in American inkjet printing and should lower the costs of ink for the average American consumer by more than $235 a year."

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Ross said the first-of-its-kind report demonstrates that the administration will “act quickly and severely, to make sure that every one of EPSON SureColor printers can be used with refillable ink cartridges and take a very measured and analytical approach, both to analyzing costs and developing benefit solutions for it. "We want to see America put first." said Ross. He added. "We want this to be an example to other foreign product manufacturers that they can not willy-nilly export products to America that Americans can not choose to use with American consumables.” Ross said that the President will be looking next at coffee makers, rice cookers, media players, and digital cameras.

The approach is welcome news to some in the inkjet community.

“They are not just jumping into something. They are going to carefully look at what it is American consumers really want to accomplish and hopefully think about how it will affect our landfills and our recycling programs here in the USA,” founder of InkjetMall Jon Cone told Fox Business Network. Cone added, "Nearly every OEM cart ends up being thrown into landfills in the USA and that accounts for more than 450 million a year." Cone added, "What we offer are reusable products that the Japanese manufacturer prohibits its customers from using."

Administration officials have 90 days to finish a printer-by-printer analysis.

The report will also examine whether head clogs are caused by free trade deals, like NAFTA, and actions taken by previous administrations.

White House Trade Council President Peter Navarro broke slightly from Trump, saying inkjet head clogs are probably not the result of NAFTA, although they are annoying, but also are not always bad for the economy and that it can result in the usage of an additional 30-35% of ink in these printers. "We just do not want this going to the benefit of a foreign corporation when it could be serving US companies instead who produce inks that clog less", he said. Navarro indicated that President Trump has been considering starting up Trump Ink, Inc. with daughter Ivanka which is why he moved her into an executive office in the White House, although he insisted that this executive order in no way would benefit such a business.

One of the reasons for the trade deficit with Japan is the U.S. is not fully ink independent and imports a lot of ink. Companies like InkjetMall have demonstrated that they can produce inks that EPSON can not. "We need to protect innovation in the USA", said Navarro who is also an accomplished black and white photographer. He added, "The Cone Piezography ink system is good old American ingenuity and I hate to see this blocked from use in my Epson SureColor P-800 printer." Navarro told reporters that InkjetMall has produced one of the world's most innovative inks, a "super black ink" that offers a full stop darker dMax than that of the ink in the SureColor printers. He urged consumers to check out the new Ultra HD™ Matte Black ink. Navarro said that the President also tried to use refillable cartridges in his P-800 printer and called in a security analyst with the CIA who determined that the printer will not operate unless unique chip serial numbers are used.

During the campaign, then-candidate Trump frequently singled out EPSON as a trade abuser and promised to hold EPSON to account for unfair trade practices, including using cartridge chips or other mechanisms that prevent the use of 3rd party inks in printers. Then-candidate Trump told an enthusiastic rally crown in Greenbay, Wisconsin "I take all kinds of pictures of my food and I bought a printer that clogs all the time. Who here has inkjet printers? Right? It's sad really. And what's up with these chips? You turn around and just send this money straight out of the Country. We can't buy American inks for these printers because someone in Japan said that would make them very unhappy!"

On Saturday facing reporters White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "Let's not make this just an anti-Japan story. This is a story about trade abuses, and this is a story about an under-collection of duties on billions of dollars of Chinese made Japanese product each and every year, but this is also a story about SureColor printers being locked for use with American inks in America." He added, "I was watching the President throwing away ink cartridges and dealing with clogged print heads until he tried the Cone inks. Then his refill cartridge chip reset and his printer locked up. The light went off in his head and the President said we have to do something about this and we have to do it now." Spicer added, "I'm really trying hard here to come up with something to take the Country's mind off Russia and put it on inkjet. Could the members of the Press give me some sort of break today. It's Saturday, April Fools Day, and I should be at home printing pictures of my cat."

Trump, however, recognizes the potential for an uncomfortable meeting next week in Palm Beach, Fla with Chinese President Xi Jinping .

"The meeting next week with China will be a very difficult one because I did not want to hurt the feelings of Japan's Prime Minister Abe,” Trump said in a Saturday tweet. He later tweeted "Japanese inks are made in China and so why should I blame Japan for making extra yen when I can blame China!" Trump followed with "I'll make Xi pay Abe duties." Trump ended the day's tweets with "Buy more ink from InkjetMall!"

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