With escalating threats of tariffs and other retaliatory measures from both the US and Chinese sides, many analysts say the two countries are on the brink of a trade war. Both have released long lists of potential tariffs, which may not be implemented if the two sides can reach a negotiated settlement. Or, the tariff lists could be whittled down following a public comment period and only partially implemented.
The United States and China have both fired warning shots on the growing field of bilateral trade disputes, though the most significant battle is likely still weeks away. While both sides have announced proposed tariffs on $50 billion in imports in relation to the USTR’s investigation into China’s intellectual property and technology transfer policies, neither will be implemented immediately.
President Donald Trump issued a presidential memorandum Monday directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider whether to launch an official investigation into China’s intellectual property rights and innovation and technology policies and practices.
China’s intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement remains inadequate and foreign company market access barriers too strict, according to the Special 301 Report, keeping the United State’s second-largest trading partner on the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) priority watch list for another year.
Ambassador to China-designate Terry Branstad’s May 2 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put him on track to be in Beijing in June if the process moves forward as expected.