Trump Pressures China On Trade; Executive Action Expected Monday

Trump to call for China IT trade probe on Monday: Politico

President Trump plans to get tougher on trade with China.

"The President would sign an executive memorandum that directs the US Trade Representatives (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to determine if it is consistent whether to investigate any of China's laws, policies, practices or actions that make unreasonable or discriminatory or may be harming American intellectual property, innovation of technology", a senior administration official told reporters. If USTR moves forward, the investigation could take as long as a year.

Officials at the White House and U.S. Trade Representative's office were not immediately available for comment. The provision has fallen into disuse since the mid-1990s after the creation of the World Trade Organization.

Trump's call with Xi and his potential plans to open the broad trade investigation come against the backdrop of rising tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

China is the North's biggest economic partner and source of aid, but says it alone can't compel Pyongyang to end its nuclear and missile programs. "If China helps us, I feel a lot different towards trade". Pyongyang this week threatened to fire missiles near the US territory of Guam during an exchange of bellicose rhetoric with Trump.

In addition to the U.S., the European Union, Japan, Germany and Canada have all expressed concern about China's behaviour on IP theft. If an investigation begins, the USA government could seek remedies either through the World Trade Organization or outside of it. They added that the trade measure would be carried out under the rules of worldwide law and would not trigger greater conflict with China. They said that USA companies had long suffered because of Chinese intellectual property violations, and that they expected Congress and the business community to support the measure. "The results are there for all to see".

Trump will make a day trip to Washington, D.C., on Monday, briefly interrupting his 17-day August working vacation, a White House official said on Friday.

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.

President Donald Trump will start the beginning steps Monday of a long awaited crackdown on Chinese intellectual property practices, administration officials told reporters Saturday. "And I think China will do a lot more".

The administration official who confirmed that Trump would sign the order contended it was unrelated to the showdown with North Korea.

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. Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, said at the time that she wanted to "personally thank" the Chinese delegation.

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 USA economy millions of jobs.

"Protection measures against some specific items, such as steel and aluminum, may gain political favors, but are not likely to be of much help to rebalance trade", economists at the Institute of International Finance wrote in a research note this week.

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