Trump set to take on China by launching fair trade probe

Pauline Gross
August 12, 2017

Trump, who will interrupt a 17-day working vacation to make a day trip to Washington for the trade announcement, had been expected to seek a so-called Section 301 investigation earlier this month, but an announcement was postponed as the White House pressed for China's cooperation on North Korea.

"If China helps us, I feel a lot different toward trade".

Trump will instruct his chief trade adviser on Monday to investigate allegations that China violated US intellectual property rights and forced companies to share their technology in order to do business there, Politico reported.

Officials, speaking to reporters on the Saturday conference call, said their intention was not to punish Beijing but to negotiate an agreement that clawed back some of the estimated $600 billion in intellectual property theft officials estimate is perpetuated by China.

"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.

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It's unclear whether any actual repercussions for China, like sanctions or tariffs, would come from an investigation like this, and officials said there is no timeline for how long an investigation would take.

In a call Friday, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that North Korea must stop its "provocative and escalatory behavior" and reaffirmed their commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, the White House said. But trade and national security experts widely noted that the trade announcement appeared to have been delayed until after China joined the United States in voting for sanction against North Korea at a United Nations Security Council session on August 5.

In addition to the United States, the European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behaviour on intellectual property theft. "This is why the president has chosen to act now and to act boldly", one administration official said. -China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan group created by Congress in 2000 to monitor trade and security issues between the world's two largest economies. The technology sector has been especially hard hit in IP disputes. Though widely used worldwide, the WTO process is viewed unfavorably by the Trump administration.

The U.S. business community, which traditionally lobbied U.S. administrations to take a softer approach toward Beijing to protect access to a profitable market, has shifted toward a tougher stance on China in response.

"An important question going forward will be whether US companies and trade associations who have highlighted the problem will actually come forward and assist our government in the investigation or whether they will hide the facts, fearful that our government won't follow through, that the Chinese will retaliate against their interests or that they'll have to admit what's happened to their critical assets". "And I think China will do a lot more".

Other reports by GizPress

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