Trump to launch investigation into China's trade practice

Trump Is Ready to Turn Up the Heat on China Over IP Transfers
Trump Cautious on China Inquiry Over Intellectual Property Theft

13 August, 2017

President Donald Trump is slated to take a break from his New Jersey vacation to return to Washington on Monday to announce an executive action that could lead to an investigation over alleged violations of US intellectual property rights.

President Donald Trump on Monday will order his top trade adviser to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force U.S. firms operating in China to turn over intellectual property, senior administration officials said on Saturday.

Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

In a statement, Macron voiced his "concern at the ballistic and nuclear threat coming from North Korea", saying the global community needed to work to get Pyongyang to "resume the path of dialogue without conditions".

The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea.

"These are two different things", the official said, speaking to reporters on a conference call.

Trump was reported to direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine if an investigation is warranted of "any of China's laws, policies, practices or actions that may be unreasonable or discriminatory, and that may be harming American intellectual property, innovation and technology".

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took issue with that assessment.

"We would like to emphasize that the Chinese government has always attached importance to intellectual property protection", a spokesman said. They said US companies had long suffered because of Chinese intellectual-property violations, and they expected Congress and the business community to support the measure.

According to a third senior administration official, these investigations could take as much as a year before the US Trade Representative could come out with its determination.

Trump had been expected to order a so-called Section 301 investigation under the 1974 Trade Act earlier this month, but action had been postponed as the White House pressed for China's cooperation in reining in North Korea's nuclear program.

Although Beijing joined in a unanimous UN Security Council decision to tighten economic sanctions on Pyongyang over its long-range missile tests, it is not clear whether Trump thinks Beijing is doing enough. -China trading relationship. But analysts have cautioned that Trump faces a huge challenge in his desire to significantly reduce the US trade deficit with China, which previous year stood at more than $300 billion. "They know how I feel", Trump told reporters on Thursday. "And I think China will do a lot more".

The official said Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping about his executive order during their phone call last night.

Pressure from some U.S. government bodies and business associations has been building for years, and has largely been a bipartisan issue in Washington. Instead, he is leading the administration in dusting off a variety of powerful and unilateral measures under US trade law, many of which the U.S stopped using after the creation of the WTO. The administration could also decide to use the information gathered in a Section 301 probe to file a case against China at the World Trade Organization, rather than acting unilaterally, the official added. Though widely used worldwide, the WTO process is viewed unfavorably by the Trump administration.

"Trade is trade; national security is national security", said one official, who, like the others, spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with administration practice.

The decision will not only take action against alleged Chinese violations of USA companies' intellectual property rights, but could also be perceived as an attempt by the US government to crank up the pressure on Beijing to rein in North Korea.

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