Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Outlines Goals for This Week’s China Trade Trip

Cathalijne Adams Researcher, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Trump administration’s U.S.-China trade delegation will likely address both intellectual property rights as well as steel and aluminum trade issues during the delegation’s visit to China this week, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Speaking at the annual Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) conference in Washington on Friday, Ross said that President Trump views America’s concerns about intellectual property rights as linked to the threats posed by China’s state-subsidized steel and aluminum industries, and that Trump believes that both trade issues must be addressed to restore fair trade with China.

“Where there’s a sort of commonality of interest between the two 232s and the 301 is this — things like steel and aluminum deal with the economy as they exist today. Intellectual property rights importantly deal with the economies as they will be in the future,” Ross said. “It’s the president’s view we must deal with both today’s necessities and the future’s necessities.”

Made in China 2025, China’s initiative to lead the world’s advanced manufacturing economy by subsidizing and loaning funds to Chinese manufacturers, is also of concern as the trade delegation prepares for their mission.

Ross observed the damage China’s subsidized steel and aluminum industries have inflicted on America as a harbinger of future consequences should the U.S. fail to address “China 2025."

“Historically, they have subsidized the traditional industries: the steels, the aluminums, things like that, shipbuilding and others. What the [China 2025] plan seems to call for is major subsidies, hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies, for the industries of the future, but we already have seen the problem that subsidies have created for the more traditional industries,” Ross said.

“Is it fair competition for America’s high-tech companies or Europe’s or Japan’s or anyone else’s to compete against a state that is advancing hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies for those industries? Leaving aside all the intellectual property rights, just the idea of the subsidies, that is troubling.”

Despite concerns that the tariffs imposed by Trump will spur a trade war, Ross expressed optimism that China is ready to negotiate.

“There’s some encouragement from some of the recent remarks by President Xi, particularly at the Boao Conference. He suggested there quite a lot of things that if fleshed out and if they were tightly timed and nominated, they could be very promising,” Ross said.

Also on the agenda for the U.S. trade delegation will be disproportionate tariffs imposed by China to solely foster their own industries and limit the growth of other nations.

"Our goal in terms of the relations with China is no different than what it has been – to get rid of the abusive tactics, especially in the intellectual property rights area but also in the tariff barriers. Take automotive. China is not now an exporter much in the way of automobiles to us, but right now their tariff barrier is 25 percent versus our 2.5,” Ross said. “It’s pretty clear that China intends to become a global player in electric vehicles and perhaps in autonomous vehicles as well.”

Currently, Ross is not scheduled to personally attend the U.S. trade delegation’s talks with China.

But Ross affirmed that “there will be a unified policy at the meeting,” addressing concerns that the U.S. trade delegation to China, which will include U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro, and White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, represents dissident perspectives on trade.

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Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Federal Minimum Wage Reaches Disappointing Milestone

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

A disgraceful milestone occurred last Sunday, June 16.

That date officially marked the longest period that the United States has gone without increasing federal the minimum wage.

That means Congress has denied raises for a decade to 1.8 million American workers, that is, those workers who earn $7.25 an hour or less. These 1.8 million Americans have watched in frustration as Congress not only denied them wages increases, but used their tax dollars to raise Congressional pay. They continued to watch in disappointment as the Trump administration failed to keep its promise that the 2017 tax cut law would increase every worker’s pay by $4,000 per year.

More than 12 years ago, in May 2007, Congress passed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It took effect two years later. Congress has failed to act since then, so it has, in effect, now imposed a decade-long wage freeze on the nation’s lowest income workers.

To combat this unjust situation, minimum wage workers could rally and call their lawmakers to demand action, but they’re typically working more than one job just to get by, so few have the energy or patience.

The Economic Policy Institute points out in a recent report on the federal minimum wage that as the cost of living rose over the past 10 years, Congress’ inaction cut the take-home pay of working families.  

At the current dismal rate, full-time workers receiving minimum wage earn $15,080 a year. It was virtually impossible to scrape by on $15,080 a decade ago, let alone support a family. But with the cost of living having risen 18% over that time, the situation now is far worse for the working poor. The current federal minimum wage is not a living wage. And no full-time worker should live in poverty.

While ignoring the needs of low-income workers, members of Congress, who taxpayers pay at least $174,000 a year, are scheduled to receive an automatic $4,500 cost-of-living raise this year. Congress increased its own pay from $169,300 to $174,000 in 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession when low income people across the country were out of work and losing their homes. While Congress has frozen its own pay since then, that’s little consolation to minimum wage workers who take home less than a tenth of Congressional salaries.

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