Trump to direct Lighthizer to assess Chinese intellectual property practices

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President Donald Trump gestures to a crowd gathered to watch him depart on Marine One from the White House on August 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. en route to Bedminster, N.J. for his summer break.

Trump has said he would be more amenable to going easy on Beijing if it were more aggressive in reining in North Korea.

Officials at the White House and the US Trade Representative's Office were not immediately available for comment.

President Donald Trump is slated to take a break from his New Jersey vacation to return to Washington on Monday to announce an executive action that could lead to an investigation over alleged violations of USA intellectual property rights.

But the high-profile announcement the administration is planning carries symbolic as well as practical ramifications, and serves to ratchet up trade pressure on Beijing amid a deepening foreign policy crisis.

On Saturday, administration officials said the new trade measure was "totally unrelated" to events involving North Korea.

As the crisis has unfolded, Trump has alternated praising China for its help and chiding it for not ratcheting up pressure on its Asian neighbour. "They know how I feel", Mr Trump told reporters last Thursday.

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 United States intellectual property theft at hundreds of billions of dollars annually that cost the USA economy millions of jobs. That effort passed by a 15-0 vote.

While administration officials said Saturday that it's too early to discuss specific actions against China, such an investigation could eventually pave the way for Trump to impose tariffs on Chinese goods. "And I think China will do a lot more". "This is simply business between two countries".

Such thefts not only damage American companies, but also pose a threat to the U.S. national security, the second official said. "The current trajectory is unsustainable".

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"Most Americans are fully aware that China is stealing our intellectual property", they added. Trump made addressing the USA trade deficit with China a centerpiece of his campaign a year ago and has suggested raising tariffs on goods from China.

Trump planned to launch the trade investigation more than a week ago, but he delayed the move in favor of securing China's support for expanded United Nations sanctions against North Korea, the senior administration official said.

United States President Donald Trump will sign an executive memorandum on Monday authorizing the USA trade representative to determine whether to investigate China's intellectual property and trade or not. It allows an industry to ask USTR to investigate whether a foreign country is unfairly restricting its sales and to use the threat of sanctions to reach a negotiated settlement.

Lighthizer is well versed in Section 301 from his stint as deputy USTR in the Ronald Reagan administration, when it was more frequently used.

Meanwhile, "the legal timeline of the process under Section 301" doesn't work well with the rules of the WTO, said Bown, who previously worked as a senior economist for worldwide trade and investment in the White House Council of Economic Advisers and the World Bank. But the United States has rarely used the trade tool since the WTO came into being in 1995. -China trade ties and of resolving differences "through dialogue and consultation".

There are "a wide variety of potential responses". 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. -China Economic and Security Review Commission, a watchdog group established by Congress.

U.S. government negotiators agreed to these allowances because Chinese companies weren't competitive internationally at the time.

USA and European companies have long complained of Chinese rules that force them to turn over their industrial secrets if they wish to do business in China.

"China also funds and facilitates the acquisition of U.S. firms that possess advanced technologies", the officials said.

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