WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's new trade enforcement unit is initially looking at obstacles to U.S. exports in about six countries, including China, a top U.S. trade official said on Monday.
Tim Reif, general counsel in the U.S. Trade Representative's office, said in a speech the number of countries coming under scrutiny by the new unit would continue to grow.
Reif also said China was a "special challenge" when it comes to enforcement of trade agreements.
Reif did not tip his hand to any new trade litigation that the United States could file at the World Trade Organization.
He said the Obama administration carefully examines concerns from industry or labor groups to decide whether legal action is needed to solve the problem or if negotiations would be a more effective course.
Two factors that administration considers in deciding whether to file a case is the economic cost of a particular problem and the precedent a positive ruling would set, he said.
In the case of China, the United States is taking a close look at industrial policies to create "national champions" in ways that could violate WTO obligations, Reif said.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Neil Stempleman)