While Democrats don’t support many things the current administration does, one area where the two sides are seemingly in agreement is the importance of stemming the theft of American intellectual property.
While Democrats and Republicans have a different point of view over a trade war with China, both sides believe that stopping the theft of trade secrets is of the utmost importance. According to a 2018 report by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, IP theft by Chinese companies alone costs the U.S. between $225 billion to $600 billion annually.
Delaware Senator Chris Coons is one of the most vocal Democrats when it comes to IP theft protection. He introduced Senate bill, S.1390, which is designed to strengthen patent protection for American innovators. Sen. Coons is adamant that trade secret protection must remain front and center in the trade negotiations with China.
“My hope is that the president, having gotten us to this point, won’t back down just for some commitment to buy a couple of shiploads of soybeans — but that we will get something that is enforceable around IP theft,” he said.
Up to this point in the negotiations, the issue regarding IP theft has been a sticking point. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concedes that the U.S. must challenge China’s trade policies, although she doesn’t believe the way the administration is handling it is the correct way.
The issue of IP theft is also a topic that keeps coming up in the 2020 election Democratic debates. Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang all consider trade secret theft a top concern.
“They steal our products, including our intellectual property. They dump substandard products into our economy. They need to be held accountable,” said Harris.
In a divisive political arena, the issue of IP theft appears to be one area that Democrats and Republicans can find some common ground. In fact, Congress members from both parties sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper imploring him to take more steps to address Chinese IP infringement. Additionally, this year’s version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act seeks to limit Chinese IP theft.