USA accuses China of stealing patents in WTO complaint

26 March, 2018, 02:17 | Author: Diane Mills
  • How much has US lost from China's IP theft?

Shipping containers await handling at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai.

China announced a $3 billion list of US goods including pork, apples and steel pipe on Friday that it said may be hit with higher tariffs in a spiraling trade dispute with President Donald Trump that companies and investors worry could depress global commerce.

The US imports billions more goods from China each year than it exports, creating a deficit of about $375bn last year - which is what Mr Trump has railed against.

"China does not want to fight a trade war, but it is absolutely not afraid of a trade war", the commerce ministry said.

Fears of a trade war have sent jitters through global markets.

The United States has long said that intellectual property theft has cost the USA economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs.

The United States had a record $375.2 billion goods trade deficit with China past year.

Pauline Loong: China will do its best to try and defuse the situation, China doesn't want to hit back, it wants markets.

As Beijing and Washington exchange barbs that threaten a potential trade war, health-conscious Chinese shoppers are beginning to fret over what this could mean for their pockets: a potential jump in prices for US-grown cherries and pistachios.

Before signing the measure, Trump lamented the US' multi-hundred billion dollar trade deficit with China and said the action would be "the first of many".

"I don't think unilateral tariffs imposed by the United States, not even in collaboration with its closest allies in Western Europe, are going to force China to make these drastic changes to its industrial structures".

The sectors most rattled by news of the tariffs, which could be as high as 25 percent, are the aerospace, information/communication technology, and machinery industries.

Washington has long accused Beijing of forcing United States companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China.

More news: Who is John Bolton, the new national security adviser?

The list announced Friday was linked to Trump's steel and aluminium tariffs, but companies already were looking ahead to a battle over complaints that Beijing steals or forces companies to hand over technology.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged Trump on Tuesday to not act "emotionally", but the impulsive president is showing no sign of backing down.

The US claims under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) relate to China's discrimination against foreign intellectual property rights holders (Article 3) and failure to ensure patent rights for foreign patent holders (Article 28).

Low-priced manufacturing in mainland China has enabled USA technology brands to take the global market by storm and rake in massive profits, said an executive at a Chinese unit of Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn. That leaves Beijing room to take more drastic steps.

If Beijing feels it is necessary, another group of American-made goods would then draw 25 per cent tariffs, including pork, which is a lucrative slice of USA exports to China.

Following Mr Trump's move, China said it was planning to retaliate with its own set of proposed tariffs worth $3bn, including tariffs on groceries and aluminium scrap.

Washington doesn't believe it needs to give Chinese leaders another list of requests because they already know what the United States wants, said a senior U.S. official.

One of the most recent high profile examples of theft of USA intellectual property happened earlier this year.

"The Trump administration's decision to go down this path is illustrative that previous strategies have not borne the hoped-for fruit".

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently put a separate proposed package of $30 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports on the president's desk.

The new order will see a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium.

Chinese purchases of those goods a year ago totalled $3 billion, the ministry said.

The report states that China restricts USA companies from investing in China and forces technology transfers from U.S. companies to Chinese entities.

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