So what happens next? Under the terms of Section 301, USTR has completed two key items on the checklist. It will likely issue a damage assessment figure that can be used as the basis for a preliminary calculation of potential sanctions. These sanctions could be rolled out at any time between now and August 2018, if the US decides that China is making insufficient progress towards satisfactory resolution of the problems identified in the original complaint.
But as the comments and hearing illustrated, it remains unclear at this point what is the likely area or areas where USTR might chose to focus attention. The comments failed to shed new light on specific challenges in a way that might have made it easier to guess which way the investigation will roll in the future.