Trump to announce crackdown on China trade practices Thursday

Trump to announce crackdown on China trade practices Thursday
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE on Thursday will announce plans to crack down on China with what could possibly be billions in tariffs and restrictions on investment, a move some fear could set off a trade war.

Although specific details of the Trump administration’s plan are still unknown, there have been media reports that the president may decide to apply tariffs between $30 billion and $50 billion on Chinese imports in response to Beijing’s wide-ranging, lax policies on intellectual property.

"Tomorrow the president will announce the actions he has decided to take based on USTR’s [United States trade representative] 301 investigation into China’s state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal U.S. technologies and intellectual property,” White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said on Wednesday.

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The president may target more than 100 products from China that the administration has found to be the the result of stealing U.S. intellectual property, according to reports.

Trump has pledged tough action on China since his presidential campaign. 

Beijing has threatened retaliation, mostly against U.S. agriculture, if Trump follows through on his promise.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE, who Trump asked last year to start investigating China’s intellectual property violations, told the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday that "we have a very serious problem of losing our intellectual property, which is really the biggest single advantage of the American economy."

In a call with reporters earlier on Wednesday, an official with the U.S. trade representative’s office, which led the investigation, said they couldn’t provide any details because the decision is up to the president. 

The official said the Trump administration has pursued a dialogue with China’s top government officials, including President Xi Jinping, but deep concerns remain about Beijing’s unwillingness to change its trade practices.

“The administration is not satisfied with the type of responses it's getting from China,” the official said.

The investigation found that China puts pressure on U.S. companies to transfer their technology to Chinese business under foreign ownership restrictions. 

USTR also found that U.S. firms aren't provided the same ability to license intellectual property as Chinese companies and that China has conducted cyberattacks to steal trade secrets, the official said. 

Many agree that China has a persistent streak of unfair trade practices targeting U.S. intellectual property.

Trade experts have said Trump’s steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, which go into effect on Friday, missed the mark in punishing China because their imports only represent about 2 percent of all steel coming into the U.S.

In past phone conversations with Xi, Trump has expressed disappointment over the growing size of the U.S. trade deficit with China, which was $375.2 billion last year.

Trump has told the Chinese president that the deficit is not sustainable.

Under the rarely used Section 301 of the trade law, the president has the power to take unilateral action to retaliate against China over its trade practices.

Concern over what Trump will do on China has raised concerns among a diverse range of business groups that say their products made in China will be caught in the net of tariffs and will lead to higher prices for consumers on everything from shoes to electronics.

U.S. businesses and allies argue that the actions must be more strategic and targeted to solve the issue and ensure American consumers and the economy aren't harmed in the process. 

In response, business groups have sent a flurry of letters to Trump asking him to either curtail or kill the tariff plans.