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Trump to direct Lighthizer to assess Chinese intellectual property practices

13 August 2017

Trump's threat to investigate China's intellectual property and trade practices is valid, but his administration might not be up to the delicate task of carrying out a new China probe without sparking a damaging trade war, USA business lobbyists said last week.

Global tensions have escalated as Trump and North Korean President Kim Jung Un traded threats of nuclear war in recent days.

Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday night of the upcoming memorandum, a senior administration official told CNN Friday. If an investigation begins, the US government could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organization or outside of it.

In the past week Donald Trump has retweeted his threats to rain down fire and fury, boasted about the readiness of his nuclear army and told a nation his "military solutions" were "fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely".

"President Trump is committed to protect America's intellectual property and national security", the official said.

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An official continued on to say that there is more than $600 billion of intellectual property theft against USA companies with China responsible for a huge portion of that.

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. Instead, he is leading the administration is dusting off a variety of powerful and unilateral measures under USA trade law, many of which the United States stopped using after the creation of the WTO, which has its own mechanisms to settle trade disputes.

The title of the so-called "301 investigation" that Trump is expected to call for Lighthizer to consider, refers to Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the president to work to remove or retaliate against a practice by a foreign government that is "unjustifiable and burdens or restricts United States commerce". "And I think China will do a lot more".

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. "Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet. they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk". "I've heard folks say, 'It's not going well, but a trade war would not be the best thing for us, dialogue is the better path.' And there are others who say, 'Bring it on, '" he said.

Trump to direct Lighthizer to assess Chinese intellectual property practices