Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Trump to launch investigation into China trade violations

Trump to launch investigation into China trade violations

The president plans to sign an executive memorandum Monday afternoon directing his top trade negotiator to determine whether to investigate China for harming intellectual property, innovation and technology, senior administration officials said in a conference call Saturday morning.

In addition to the U.S., the EU, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behavior on intellectual property theft.

The move comes amid growing tension over the threat of North Korea using nuclear weapons, and a week after the US received China's help in the United Nations Security Council to impose tougher economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

The official said Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping about his executive order during their phone call last night. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said at the time that she wanted to "personally thank" the Chinese delegation.

Mr 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 programme.

The announcement expected Monday comes amid sharply escalating tensions, with Trump warning that US military options are "locked and loaded" if North Korean President Kim Jong-Un acts unwisely.

Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the U.S.

"Americans are among the most innovative", said one official.

Administration officials declined to say how long it will take before a decision is made whether to start a probe.

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The Chinese policies of an American company to enter into a join venture with a Chinese company to do business is "not fair", the official said.

Officials at the White House and the US Trade Representative's Office were not immediately available for comment. That statement didn't mention the executive action, but said the leaders discussed North Korea policy and Trump's visit to China later this year.

Earlier this year, an independent commission on US intellectual property estimated that the annual cost to the USA economy in counterfeit goods, pirated software, and theft of trade secrets from all sources exceeds $225 billion and could be as high as $600 billion.

"China is widely recognised as the biggest source of the problem", he said. "Those activities haven't abated; they've accelerated as China seeks to become self-sufficient in new technologies and dominate world markets", he said.

Trump, now on a 17-day working summer vacation at his golf resort in New Jersey, is returning to the White House for a day on Monday to sign this executive order. The Chinese trade announcement is expected to be part of his agenda.

Trump's latest move does not mean any immediate sanctions on China as is being reported by some media outlets, but might lead to one at the end of the investigation which could take as long as a year.

"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft harm the USA economy and its workers", a second administration official said. They know how I feel.

The measure would seek to address what the USA business community has described as flagrant trade violations by China, which employs a variety of rules and practices to wall its market off from foreign competition and pressure US companies to part with valuable product designs and trade secrets - or to steal them outright. "It's not going to continue like that", he said.

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