Last week, the Trump administration announced its Trade Policy Agenda, to criticism and support. As the above word cloud suggests, the focus is on US interests, US sovereignty and the US relationship with the WTO, although China (highlighted in yellow above) is certainly also called out.
The policy singles out IP and China in the following ways:
- It makes a key objective of the administration’s trade agenda “ensuring that U.S. owners of intellectual property (IP) have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their IP.” The focus on use of IP, a theme of this blog, is welcome.
- It continues to focus on “theft of intellectual property” including “unfair competitive behavior by state-owned enterprises…”. Theft of IP has been a theme of the Trump campaign and of an early administration executive order.
- It points to China as a cause for much of the US economy’s malaise, noting that “while the current global trading system has been great for China, since the turn of the century it has not generated the same results for the United States.” The report also notes that “a review of what has happened since 2000 – the last full year before China joined the WTO – shows a period of slowed GDP growth, weak employment growth, and sharp net loss of manufacturing employment in the United States. Many factors contribute to this, notably the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and the broad impact of automation. But the trade data are striking. “
- The four priorities of the new trade agenda are US-focused. These include: “ (1) defend U.S. national sovereignty over trade policy; (2) strictly enforce U.S. trade laws; (3) use all possible sources of leverage to encourage other countries to open their markets to U.S. exports of goods and services, and provide adequate and effective protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights; and (4) negotiate new and better trade deals with countries in key markets around the world.”
The theme of IP theft is also found in the revised report of the Commission on the Theft of Intellectual Property (Feb. 27, 2017) coauthored by the former Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair and former Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr. The report notes that “there exists broad bipartisan support for addressing IP theft and safeguarding the competitive advantages of U.S. firms, entrepreneurs, and workers. “ The report further reiterates several prior recommendations, noting that “China, whose industrial output now exceeds that of the United States, remains the world’s principal IP infringer. China is deeply committed to industrial policies that include maximizing the acquisition of foreign technology and information, policies that have contributed to greater IP theft. IP theft by thousands of Chinese actors continues to be rampant, and the United States constantly buys its own and other states’ inventions from Chinese infringers. “
Note that this blog was cited and this author participated in meetings involving the original 2013 report.