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US reportedly weighs retaliation against China for restrictions on tech companies

  • The U.S. trade representative's office is putting together a fresh trade complaint against China to retaliate for restrictions on high tech sectors.
  • The complaint would open up a new front in the trade standoff with China, in addition to proposed tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese imports.
  • Should the trade representative move forward with this new complaint, it would be the third such action the U.S. government has employed to attempt to influence China's trade policies.
Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is considering a new complaint against China to retaliate for restrictions on high tech sectors, like cloud computing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Separate from levies on steel and aluminum and tariffs on Chinese imports over alleged intellectual property theft, the complaint would open up a new front in the trade standoff with China.

In China, U.S. cloud-computing firms, like Amazon and Microsoft, must operate jointly with Chinese companies and license their technology to the Chinese partners. The USTR has argued Beijing restricts licenses that would allow U.S. firms to operate independently, preventing U.S. companies from marketing their services or signing up customers in China.

Should the trade representative move forward with this new complaint, it would be the third such action the U.S. government has employed to attempt to influence China's trade policies.

The trade representative has yet to decide whether to go ahead with the complaint, individuals familiar with the situation told the Wall Street Journal, but it would likely fall under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Read more about trade restrictions on China from the Wall Street Journal.

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