President Donald Trump authorized an investigation into allegations that China has been misappropriating U.S. intellectual property.
Trump signed a memorandum directing U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to "examine China's policies, practices, and actions with regard to the forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property," the president said during a brief ceremony at the White House on Aug. 14.
During his campaign, Trump made protection of American markets and workers a key part of his appeal to voters.
"We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs, we will enforce the rules of fair and reciprocal trade that form the foundation of responsible commerce, and we will protect forgotten Americans who have been left behind by a global trade system that has failed to look – and I mean look – out for their interests," Trump said in his remarks.
The bipartisan Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimated in a report earlier this year that counterfeit goods cost the U.S. economy $225 billion, while the cost to the economy from pirated software and theft of trade secrets could reach as high as $600 billion.
"This will be one of USTR's highest priorities, and we will report back to the President as soon as possible," Lighthizer said in a statement.