World Intellectual Property Review Quotes Stephen Kho on Trump Administration’s Reliance on Section 301

Stephen Kho, a partner in the international trade practice at Akin Gump, has been quoted in the World Intellectual Property Review article “Trade relations: Sending in the big guns.” In it, Kho discusses whether the Trump administration is overreaching the scope of its trade tools in its fight against China.

The article reports that the U.S. Commerce Department has determined that the Chinese government has used discriminatory licensing requirements to transfer technologies from U.S. to Chinese companies, in addition to conducting cyber intrusions into U.S. corporations. This, in turn, has spurred President Trump to use Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 as a tool to force new negotiations.

Kho said Section 301 should be seen as a tool of last resort, to be used when there are no other trade agreements or options for negotiation in place. “Not only has the Trump administration started to use Section 301 in places where trade agreements exist, but they are also using it to extend the U.S.’s authority,” he said.

Too much reliance on Section 301, however, “isn’t conducive for building long-term trade relations with any country,” Kho cautioned. The approach employed by the Trump administration, he added, “sends mixed signals” and implies that “everything is negotiable, even issues such as due process.”