Trade Matters | July 22, 2008
USW Supports 'Trade Enforcement Act of 2008'
The United Steelworkers (USW) announced support for a new trade bill, “The Trade Enforcement Act of 2008” (H.R. 6530), introduced last week by House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI).
“We thank the Chairmen and their staff for this legislative initiative to staunch the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs lost because of dumped and foreign-subsidized imports,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.
The USW President adds, “We simply cannot stand by idly, while our jobs and production are being off-shored and America’s trade deficit is at an all-time high. Foreign governments like China must be held accountable when they cheat on the trade rules by doling out millions in subsidies to their producers in violation of those very rules.”
The House Democratic legislation would apply the anti-subsidy law to Chinese imports improperly subsidized by the Chinese government; compel the U.S. President to provide relief from surging Chinese imports under a special safeguard provision, except in extraordinary circumstances; and it would give Congress the power to reverse a decision by the White House that China is no longer a non-market economy country.
H.R. 6530 also sends an important message to the World Trade Organization (WTO) trading partners in the Doha Round negotiations that WTO rulings cannot improperly limit U.S. sovereignty. The bill seeks to correct a WTO decision that did just that when it prohibited the U.S. government from following its practice begun in 1921 to count only dumped sales in calculating the extent of dumping (the so-called “zeroing” practice.)
In addition, H.R. 6530 would make some improvements to import safety by including penalties on importers who opt-in to a voluntary safety monitoring program. Penalties include higher bonding limits, increased inspections, or banning offending imports entirely for not less than six months.
“There is no doubt that more needs to be done,” said Gerard, who cited using the trade laws to redress pernicious currency manipulation by countries like China, and making sure that the WTO cannot restrict how the U.S. Treasury disposes of tariffs collected on unfairly traded imports. “But this trade enforcement bill is a good first step in neutralizing the terrible effects that unfair import competition does to American workers, families and communities. It gives us some enhanced tools to fight against such unfair trade practices,” said Gerard.