Trump White House to look into China’s trade practices

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President Trump plans to get tougher on trade with China.

On Monday, Trump will be anticipated to direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look into alleged Chinese violations of U.S. trade, including forced intellectual property transfers in addition to also patent thefts, according to senior administration officials who spoke Saturday.

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Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday night of the upcoming memorandum, a senior administration official told CNN Friday.

The move, which will be not yet an official investigation, could lay the groundwork for one. Lighthizer will recommend whether an official investigation into trade practices will be warranted.

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

Related: Trump will be getting ready to go after China on trade

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

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

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

Trump slams China after North Korea missile test

The trade investigation could strain relations between the U.S. in addition to also China as the two countries wrestle with the unpredictable situation over North Korea. Pyongyang This particular week threatened to fire missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam during an exchange of bellicose rhetoric with Trump.

“The United States government can, in addition to also does, work with countries to address serious concerns such as North Korea while also pursuing measures to address economic concerns, such as the theft of U.S. intellectual property,” a U.S. National Security Council official said.

Related: Trump in addition to also China could still fall out badly over trade

that will wasn’t immediately clear how China would certainly react to the move.

When reports of the potential trade investigation first emerged more than a week ago, China’s Commerce Ministry stressed the importance of U.S.-China trade ties in addition to also of resolving differences “through dialogue in addition to also consultation.”

“We would certainly like to emphasize that will the Chinese government has always attached importance to intellectual property protection,” a spokesman said. “The results are there for all to see.”

china us trade

Trump, who has been residing at his golf club in Bedminster, completely new Jersey, for the past week, plans to return to Washington on Monday to officially announce the trade investigation.

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

“I think China can do a lot more,” Trump told reporters on Thursday. “in addition to also I think China will do a lot more.”

however experts say China, which accounts for around 0% of North Korea’s foreign trade, will be unwilling to squeeze Kim’s regime hard enough to make that will give up on its nuclear program because that will would certainly risk the chaotic collapse of a state that will Beijing wants to keep as a strategic buffer.

Related: 4 ways China could hurt North Korea’s economy

The trade investigation will be anticipated 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.

The administration has been eyeing various other moves to rebalance the U.S.-China trading relationship. however analysts have cautioned that will Trump faces a huge challenge in his desire to significantly reduce the U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year stood at more than $300 billion.

“Protection measures against some specific items, such as steel in addition to also aluminum, may gain political favors, however are not likely to be of much help to rebalance trade,” economists at the Institute of International Finance wrote in a research note This particular week.

— Jethro Mullen contributed to This particular report.

CNNMoney (Washington) First published August 12, 2017: 3:32 AM ET


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