Electronics

Trump 'to call for China IP trade probe tomorrow'

Trump 'to call for China IP trade probe tomorrow'

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday will order his top trade adviser to determine whether to investigate Chinese trade practices that force U.S. firms operating in that country to turn over intellectual property, senior administration officials said on Saturday. While Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era trade deal, and will begin talks next week to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, other planned trade measures have been slow to materialize.

Should an investigation find wrongdoing, Trump could impose tariffs against Chinese imports, which would mark a significant escalation in his efforts to reshape the trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

The move, which could eventually lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods, comes at a time when Mr. Trump has asked China to do more to crack down on North Korea's nuclear-missile program as he threatens possible military action against Pyongyang.

Trump has been trying for months to get China to exert more pressure on North Korea, but has recently expressed frustration with the lack of progress.

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. Pyongyang this week threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam during an exchange of bellicose rhetoric with Trump.

A 2013 report by a commission co-chaired by Jon Huntsman, ambassador to China under President Barack Obama and Trump's nominee to be Russian envoy, pegged the losses from USA intellectual-property theft at hundreds of billions of dollars annually that cost the US economy millions of jobs. Xi "stressed that China and the US share the same interests on the denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula". -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation". "President Trump is committed to protect America's intellectual property and national security", the official said. "The results are there for all to see".

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But Trump also told Xi about the move toward a possible inquiry into China's trade practices, according to two US officials familiar with that conversation.

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. They know how I feel. "And I think China will do a lot more".

Mr Trump has suggested he would go easier on China if it were more forceful in getting North Korea to rein in its nuclear weapons programme.

The trade investigation is expected to be only one part of a multi-pronged push by the Trump administration to counter perceived Chinese trade abuses, which Trump frequently railed against as a candidate.

Michael Wessel, a commissioner on the U.S. American companies "should not be forced or coerced to turn over the fruits of their labour", the official said, adding that the cost of intellectual theft on United States economy is estimated to be as high as Dollars 600 billion a year.