If technology transfer is part of the TRIPS agreement, then why does the U.S. see an issue with it in respect to China?


I've heard that technology transfer is part of the TRIPS agreement every WTO members agreed to. If that is the case, why is the U.S. unwilling to transfer technology to China in particular?

2 Answers 2


There's some double speak involved in this technology transfer, and it's anyone's guess where things will head in the end with respect to the US and China.

On the one hand side you've US companies who are saying that it's intolerable that technological transfers are occurring when they invest in China. And they've been complaining about it for a long time to Congress and to the White House. It kind of makes sense at the end of the day, because they're obligated to have a joint venture with a local when building a factory in China. What's to stop China from subsequently building their own national champion?

On the other hand side, that technology transfer is basically the only thing that is getting in the way of US companies outsourcing what remains of US industrial jobs in China. If their IP rights end up protected, as the Trump White House is currently seeking, then why shouldn't they outsource production over there?


The question is whether China qualifies as a 'developing country'. China insists that it is, and wants the advantages granted by the WTO.

Tech transfer is just one of several benefits the WTO grants to developing countries to help them out.

A good deal of the rest of the world, including the US government, sees China as no longer qualifying for the 'developing country' benefits.

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