Trump Signals He Favors Mnuchin’s Path to Shield Technology From China

Trump Signals He Favors Mnuchin’s Path to Shield Technology From China

© Reuters.  Trump Signals He Favors Mnuchin’s Path to Shield Technology From China

© Reuters. Trump Signals He Favors Mnuchin’s Path to Shield Technology From China

(Bloomberg) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he favors using a U.S. committee that scrutinizes foreign acquisitions of American companies to limit Chinese investments in sensitive American technologies.

Trump’s remarks at the White House appeared to align him with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in an internal administration debate over how to curb Chinese acquisition of U.S. intellectual property. Mnuchin has advised using the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. instead of declaring an economic emergency and invoking a little-used 1977 law called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

The president said that China will not be the only target, though his March 22 order directing the Treasury Department to weigh options on curbing investment restrictions singled out China.

“We have the greatest technology in the world, people copy it and they steal it, but we have the great scientists, we have the great brains, and we have to protect that,” Trump said. “And that can be done through CFIUS, we have a lot of things we can do it through.”

Trump denied that China was the only country to be targeted by investment curbs, echoing Mnuchin’s denial of reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

“It’s not just Chinese. We don’t want people coming in,” Trump said. “We are a very smart country. We have the most incredible people in Silicon Valley. We don’t want China or other countries.”

Reports that the U.S. was considering more extreme unilateral measures against China such as IEEPA rattled markets, sending stocks in the U.S. and Asia down on Monday. Mnuchin in the afternoon tweeted that a report he will publish Friday “is not specific to China, but to all countries that are trying to steal our technology.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro sought to ease investor concerns about U.S. trade policy, saying there were no plans to impose restrictions.

“All we’re doing here with the president’s trade policy is trying to defend our technology when it may be threatened,” Navarro said in a CNBC interview on Monday with the down more than 400 points.

Congress has been working on legislation to modernize CFIUS and expand its scope. If passed, foreign investors seeking to buy U.S. companies would face higher hurdles for regulatory approval. The Trump administration has backed companion proposals from the House and Senate.

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