On August 18, 2017, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer initiated an investigation to determine whether the acts, policies, and practices of the Chinese Government related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and either burden or restrict US commerce under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. § 2411). Ambassador Lighthizer launched the Section 301 investigation at the direction of US President Donald Trump, who signed a memorandum on August 14, 2017 instructing the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) to conduct such an investigation.
On March 22, 2018, USTR released its Section 301 report, finding that China’s policies harm to the US economy by at least US$50 billion per year. Simultaneously, President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum outlining a series of remedies that his Administration may take, including plans to (1) increase tariffs on certain Chinese imports, (2) take action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and (3) increase restrictions on Chinese investment in sensitive US technology. US businesses must assess their supply chains and global operations to evaluate potential effects and potentially engage with US policymakers on the impacts of these proposals.