The Trump Administration Reaches for a Trade Sledgehammer

The White House is planning to launch new investigations into China’s trade and intellectual property practices, and soon. The move underscores how talks between the United States and China have broken down over Washington’s expectations that Beijing would help rein in North Korea’s nuclear program. With the 100-day action plan on trade that followed US President Donald Trump’s April meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping over, and with Pyongyang still aggressively pursuing a fully functional and deliverable nuclear weapon, the White House already had signaled it would no longer be constrained when dealing with China before Trump tweeted July 29 that he was “very disappointed in China” for its inaction on North Korea. And now that comprehensive trade talks are frozen, the United States is pursuing far more aggressive measures against China’s economic policy – though it still retains the option to walk this pursuit back if needed.
According to several reports, the Office of the US Trade Representative will investigate technology transfers mandated by China pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Beijing requires foreign companies to share technology in exchange for allowing them to invest in China or access the massive and lucrative Chinese market. The investigation could be announced this week and is likely to be rolled into an executive order by Trump that includes other enforcement actions related to trade, investment, and intellectual property.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 08/04/2017.