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MEMA calls for ‘engagement’ with China, not tariffs, to protect IP

The Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association on Wednesday again called on the Trump administration to find alternative means to get China to curb intellectual property (IP) theft, and to stop the ever-escalating tariffs on trade.

“The current, continued, and expected retaliatory tariffs could negate the Trump administration’s recent successful work on behalf of American companies, such as tax reform,” MEMA said in its latest statement. “The protection of intellectual property is a critical issue for MEMA and its members, and for decades MEMA has advocated for strong global protections of IP investments.

“However, MEMA fears that escalating this back-and-forth with a major trade partner will not resolve the issue at hand: intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is critical to the sustained success of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry, the largest sector of manufacturing jobs in the United States.”

Motor vehicle parts manufacturers conduct almost one‐third of the annual $18 billion investment by the automotive industry in research and development, according to MEMA. And motor vehicle parts are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting and IP theft activities.

Strong IPR protections are needed to encourage companies to support important research and development investment and to foster innovation, the association notes.

“But these tariffs are taxes that hurt U.S. companies, put jobs at risk, and negatively impact consumers,” MEMA said. “Instead, MEMA supports stronger bi-lateral engagement where China and the U.S. work together to protect the valuable IP of our members, or leveraging the powerful relationships the U.S. has with other trading partners to pressure China to enforce their own IP laws and comply with international IP laws and regulations.”

In May, MEMA testified before the United States Trade Representative (USTR) against these tariffs. During its testimony, MEMA highlighted that IP theft protections are critical but argued tariffs on motor vehicle parts manufacturers will be ineffective in obtaining these goals.

To the contrary, such prohibitively high tariffs on these products will disproportionately harm U.S. businesses, including the motor parts and equipment manufacturers MEMA represents, the association argued.

MEMA maintains a trade resources page with current and detailed information on NAFTA, the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, and the Section 301 investigation into IP theft by China, as well as information regarding political action and advocacy.

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