(L-R) Brazil's President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma pose for a group picture during a BRICS summit last October. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

BRICS nations pledged on Wednesday to fight protectionism and safeguard intellectual property rights, just as the US makes claims that China is doing the opposite, reports Reuters.

Not only has the Trump administration signaled this week an investigation into China’s practice of forced technology transfer from foreign firms, but his Democratic detractors in Congress unveiled plans Wednesday to do more of the same.

As part of their plan, according to the AP, Democrats have envisioned a new “independent trade prosecutor” who would be empowered to investigate unfair trade practices and recommend retaliation outside of the WTO process.

Meanwhile, a statement from the BRICS meeting read:

“Ministers were committed to continue to firmly oppose trade and investment protectionism, recommitted to their existing pledge for both standstill and rollback of protectionist measures, and called upon countries to join in that commitment.

“Ministers agreed to promote exchanges and cooperation on intellectual property rights legislation and enforcement in order to create favorable conditions for trade and innovation-driven economic development.”

With the current political climate in the US trending towards a competition between the Trump and Democratic lawmakers to take the mantle of protectionism, it looks all the more likely that Washington will take concrete actions against China. That would surely spell trouble for US businesses operating in the world’s second largest economy.