Published: Sun, August 13, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Donald Trump to order investigation into Chinese trade practices

Donald Trump to order investigation into Chinese trade practices

In the meantime, it may help to satisfy President Trump's political promises to get tougher on countries that cheat the United States economically, following a series of setbacks and delays on ambitious trade measures floated by the administration in past months.

They reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, the White House said in a statement.

The move, which is not yet an official investigation, could lay the groundwork for one.

The U.S. could file a trade complaint on IP with the WTO or take action outside the WTO process, one administration official said. 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.

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

Politico said it was not clear how much detail Mr Trump would provide in his announcement, but that officials expected US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open a Section 301 probe.

Trump has suggested he would go easier on China if it were more forceful in getting North Korea to rein in its nuclear weapons program. "If China helps us, I feel a lot different toward trade".

It adds China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten USA soil and the US retaliates, "China will stay neutral".

In addition to the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behaviour on IP theft. It was not immediately clear whether he was talking about trade was the subject. If an investigation begins, the US government could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organization or outside of it. Trump made addressing the US trade deficit with China a centerpiece of his campaign a year ago and has suggested raising tariffs on goods from China.

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. "The results are there for all to see".

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

And then on Thursday, when speaking with reporters, Trump said in relation to North Korea, "if China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade".

Despite Trump's previous comments, officials at the briefing repeatedly rebuffed any attempt by reporters to connect the possible investigation to the North Korea situation.

The statement Friday does not mention any specific actions China would be willing to take, although some Chinese scholars and state media have called on Beijing to take on a shuttle diplomacy role to facilitate talks between the USA and North Korea.

"China's unfair trade practices and industrial policies including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft harm the United States economy and its workers", a second administration official said.

Such thefts not only damage American companies, but also pose a threat to the USA national security, the second official said.

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