Less than a week after President Trump issued a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to determine whether to investigate China regarding certain intellectual property and technology transfer issues, USTR Robert Lighthizer formally initiated a Section 301 investigation into the matter on August 18, 2017. In announcing the investigation, he stated that, “[a]fter consulting with stakeholders and other government agencies, I have determined that these critical issues merit a thorough investigation.” Details of the four areas of investigation and information regarding public comments were provided in a Federal Register notice.

Specifically, the public is invited to submit written comments to USTR no later than September 28, 2017 on: (1) the acts, policies and practices of the Chinese government described in the Federal Register notice; (2) information on other acts, policies and practices of China relating to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation as described in the president’s memorandum, which might be included in the investigation and/or addressed through other trade avenues; (3) the nature and level of burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by the applicable acts, policies and practices of the government of China and/or any economic assessment of that burden or restriction; and (4) whether actionable conduct exists under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and what action, if any, should be taken. A public hearing will be held on October 10, 2017; persons wishing to testify at the hearing must provide written notification of their desire to speak and provide a summary of their proposed testimony by September 28, 2017.