President Trump took steps March 22 to address Chinese policies and practices related to technology transfer and intellectual property that harm the U.S. economy, U.S. businesses in China and American innovation.
“Under my administration, the theft of American prosperity will end,” the president said at a White House ceremony. “We’re going to defend our industry and create a level playing field for the American worker — finally.”
The president made his comments before he signed a memorandum that directs the U.S. trade representative (USTR) to consider increased tariffs on certain goods that China exports to the U.S., including aerospace products, arms, information and communication technology, and machinery.
This would be one of the responsive actions under an investigation that USTR started on August 18, 2017, which concluded that certain acts, policies and practices of the Chinese government related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. The investigation is known as a “301” investigation for the section of the Trade Act of 1974 that allows such probes.
The president directed relevant departments and agencies to work with the secretary of the treasury to propose measures to address harm to the United States resulting from China’s investment practices related to the acquisition of sensitive technologies that are not fully addressed by existing authorities.
The 301 investigation also concludes that China forces U.S. companies to give over proprietary intellectual property to gain access to Chinese markets. For instance, China required foreign companies that access their new energy vehicles market to reveal manufacturing technology for the entire vehicle.
“President Trump has made it clear we must insist on fair and reciprocal trade with China and strictly enforce our laws against unfair trade,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. “China’s unprecedented and unfair trade practices are a serious challenge not just to the United States, but to our allies and partners around the world.”