Despite China being notorious for its pervasive trademark squatting, the move has sparked an ethical debate about the Trump family’s overall business ambitions and the balance of power in trade talks.
China has granted another five trademarks to Ivanka Trump as trade talks with her father’s administration are in full swing, while the previous ones, approved earlier in January, cover a whole range of products and services from wedding dresses to brokerages. Four trademarks, including child care centres, sunglasses and chic party outfits, were approved on Sunday, while a fifth, dealing with brokerage services, charitable fundraising and art valuation, were approved earlier, on January 6, according to online trademark records.
In the meantime, there are concerns that by requesting high-profile intellectual property rights from a foreign government, the White House could make it possible for China to exert pressure on the US in major economic negotiations. Separately, another ethical question has been raised over the Trump family’s global trademark portfolio paving the way for lucrative business ventures, in China among others, when Donald Trump’s term ends. The issue hasn’t gone unnoticed on Twitter; with social media users again wondering if their financial interest vis-à-vis China really influences their policy decisions in the White House.
The news has also been closely associated with rumours of a woman connected to the Chinese authorities paying well over $15 million for Jared and Ivanka’s penthouse in Manhattan, which is reportedly about $2 million more than the price of a similar penthouse in that specific building.
Her representatives argue that the trademark filings, which have now made headlines, are a traditional business practice aimed at protecting her name from copycats trying to use her fame to make money, which is known to be very widespread in China.
Last July, over a year after Ivanka assumed the position of a senior White House aide, the US president’s eldest daughter shut down her namesake apparel brand. Ivanka Trump took on the role of Special Assistant to the President in March 2017 as an unpaid federal employee; however before that she is known to have been working at the White House unofficially, which meant she didn’t have to comply with ethics and disclosure rules that apply to government officials.
In the midst of a trade war between the US and China, it has been estimated that the value of Chinese goods and services purchased by Americans was $323.3 billion higher than the value of American goods and services bought by their largest trading partner in 2018, according to the Chinese Customs Administration and National Bureau of Statistics of China.
That’s a surge of 17 percent in 2018, the International Business Times reported last week, adding that the trade deficit is caused by a stronger dollar that made US exports more expensive for other countries.
READ MORE: US Trade Deficit with China Surged to $323 Billion Last Year
On 4 January, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said that six senior officials from the USTR itself, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Treasury, and Department of Commerce had formed a special delegation to set trade talks rolling with their Chinese counterparts.
More specifically, the two parties discussed ways to achieve fairness, reciprocity, and balance in trade relations between the two nations, after earlier in December, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to call a truce in their escalating trade war during a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
The trade controversy arose after Trump announced in June a 25 percent tax on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, prompting several rounds of exchange of duties amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.