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U.S. response to Chinese IP theft could skirt WTO rules

Worker prepares to destroy pirated CDs and DVDs in China
Pirated CDs and DVDs in Taiyuan, China. Photo: Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

U.S. companies have long decried Chinese theft of their intellectual property. In August 2017, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) launched an investigation into China's intellectual property policies and practices, which is set to conclude before August 2018.

Why it matters:  It is unclear whether the Trump administration intends to move against China without first going to the WTO. If so, it might argue that its concerns about China’s intellectual property policies and practices do not involve a WTO trade agreement. How the administration finesses this issue could affect the WTO’s ability to resolve future trade disputes.