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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3283, United States Trade Rights Enforcement Act

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Location: Washington, DC


PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3283, UNITED STATES TRADE RIGHTS ENFORCEMENT ACT -- (House of Representatives - July 27, 2005)

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(Mr. PUTNAM asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 387 is a closed rule that provides 1 hour of debate in the House equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Ways and Means. The rule waives all points of order against consideration of the bill and provides that the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in the Committee on Rules report accompanying the resolution shall be considered as adopted. H. Res. 387 also provides one motion to recommit.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this rule and the underlying bill, H.R. 3283, the United States Trade Rights Enforcement Act. The legislation passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a majority vote of 240 to 186, but did not garner the necessary two-thirds vote to pass under suspension of the rules.

Over the past 25 years, U.S.-China trade has risen from $5 billion to $231 billion, and China is now our third largest trading partner. In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization by notifying the WTO they had formally ratified the WTO agreements. However, a report released in December of 2004 by the U.S. Trade Representative stated that while China has worked hard to comply with its WTO commitments, they have not always been satisfactory.

Major areas of concern identified in the report included intellectual property rights, agricultural services, industrial policies, trading rights and distribution, and transparency of trade laws. This legislation addresses these concerns by creating concrete mechanisms to ensure that China abides by its previous commitments and that we renew our efforts to level the playing field for American manufacturers competing against subsidized Chinese goods.

Specifically, the bill would establish a monitoring system to track China's compliance with its trade obligations on intellectual property rights, market access for U.S. goods, services, and agriculture, and accounting of Chinese subsidies so that we open it up and have that transparency that has been lacking to date. The system would require that the President issue semiannual reports to Congress on China's progress in meeting these commitments.

Mr. Speaker, our domestic goods manufacturers are currently at a disadvantage because they are forced to compete with imported goods subsidized by foreign governments or public entities that can be sold at lower prices. H.R. 3283 would apply U.S. countervailing duty law to exports from nonmarket economies, such as China, to give our manufacturers the tools they need here in America to compete with nonmarket economies in those countries.

The bill also tightens the rules on antidumping duties by requiring cash deposits, and suspending for 3 years the availability of bonds for new shippers in antidumping cases in order to prevent those shippers from defaulting on their obligations.

H.R. 3283 increases funding for the U.S. Trade Representative to improve the monitoring and enforcement of U.S. trade agreements, something that we hear about an awful lot on this floor, the lack of enforcement of prior trade agreements. This directs the trade representative to make that a priority.

The bill also authorizes funding for the U.S. International Trade Commission and requires the commission to conduct a comprehensive study on the sensitivity of U.S. trade and jobs to current policies.

Mr. Speaker, in today's global marketplace, it is vital that trade obligations be enforced and that our manufacturers and producers be allowed to fairly compete in our markets here at home and those abroad. I urge my colleagues to support this rule and support the underlying bill.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

One of the items that the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) mentioned that I agree wholeheartedly with is the rise of China is one of the most significant developments of the 21st century, and that is why it is so critically important that we make sure that the trade agreements that exist between our country and theirs are enforced and are monitored. That is what this bill does.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Rogers), a man from a heavy industry and manufacturing State who understands well the challenges imposed by the lack of enforcement of these agreements.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, let me just take one moment to correct something that was said by my friend from Massachusetts about this week being filled with renaming of post offices. We have also managed to find time this week to pass the first comprehensive postal reform in years. There is the strong likelihood of at least a couple of appropriations conference reports; the Central American Free Trade Agreement; a highway conference report; an energy conference report; and a bill to get strict with China about enforcing our trade agreements.

The gentlewoman from New York is correct. This bill was up for a vote yesterday on the suspension calendar. Under House rules it requires a two-thirds vote to be passed. It garnered 240 votes, shy of two-thirds, but a clear majority, with 19 Democrats also believing that it was important to enforce trade agreements with China. It was our mistake, apparently, to believe that there would be even broader bipartisan support, to believe that there would be more than 19 Democrats who would want to enforce our trade agreements with China. So it is back today where it requires a majority vote to pass. So for the second day, we will have an opportunity to devote the time and resources to debate the need for our country to enforce trade agreements with China; to keep our commitments that have been negotiated and passed in the Congress; to make sure that the resources are in the Department of Commerce and the resources are in the ITC, the International Trade Commission, and the resources are in the Trade Representative's Office to make sure that we are monitoring the compliance of the Chinese Government with preexisting laws, with preexisting trade agreements so that our manufacturers, our employers, our jobs in America do not suffer. That is why we are back here today.

I am happy to yield, Mr. Speaker, 5 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Souder), another leader on this issue.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The gentleman on the other side of the aisle, for whom I have a great deal of respect, from New Jersey represents a major industrial State, lots of manufacturers. I would just say that this is clearly a bill that is more than a fig leaf. Application of U.S. countervailing duty law to exports from nonmarket economies is more than an empty gesture: $6 million per year in additional money to USTR beyond the President's request, up to $45 million and earmarked for the General Counsel, Office of Monitoring and Compliance; the suspension for 3 years of bonding authority; increased teeth, increased enforcement, increased compliance to make the Chinese follow the law and agreements that we have already signed and agreed to.

Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. English), the sponsor of this legislation, and someone who has worked for years very diligently on all the issues relating to China.

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Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, this is a huge week for the Congress, a big week for the House of Representatives. We are passing out major postal reform for the first time in years, a highway bill that has been in the making for over 2 Congresses now, an energy conference report that has also been in the making for over 2 Congresses now; the opportunity to have at least one and perhaps as many as three appropriations conference reports behind us as we enter the August district work period; and a Central American Free Trade Agreement, as well as a bill that gets tough with China, that finally holds our administration's feet and the feet of, either party's feet to the fire, and requires that they monitor and enforce the existing trade agreements that have been enacted by this Congress.

This bill has been called a smoke screen, it has been called a fig leaf, it has been called a number of demeaning terms. But at the end of the day, this is a real worthwhile enforcement tool that gives Members the opportunity to show the folks back home where they are on fair level trade with China.

The application of U.S. countervailing duty law on nonmarket economies is not an empty gesture.

A system of comprehensive monitoring of Chinese compliance with their trade obligations on intellectual property rights; market access for our American goods, services, and agriculture; an accounting of the Chinese subsidies; increased transparency so that we know what the government ownership is, we know what they are subsidizing, we know how much. Those are more than fig leaves, Mr. Speaker.

It requires reporting by Treasury to define the currency manipulation and to analyze the effect of what the Chinese did with their new exchange rate mechanism this week. That is not a smoke screen.

A $6 million a year increase above the President's request, up to almost $45 million a year for the general counsel and an office of monitoring and compliance. That is not an empty promise. That is a real meaningful resource to improve our ability to track the Chinese subsidy and the potential manipulation of the global marketplace that is out of compliance with our trade agreements.

The suspension for 3 years of the availability of bonds for new shippers in antidumping cases. Meaningful, meaningful reform. And funding for the ITC and an ITC report on the sensitivity of U.S. trade and jobs to the currency policy, something that on a bipartisan basis we have heard a great deal of angst about from Members of Congress. That is a reflection of what is going on in the countryside that there are genuine fears out there about currency manipulation. This bill gives us an opportunity to get our arms around how extensive that is and what effect the reforms and the step forward the Chinese Government made this week will have on our economy and our employment base.

This is an outstanding bill, Mr. Speaker. We have debated it now, this is the second day, first on the suspension calendar, admittedly with the belief that it would garner two-thirds support from this Chamber in the belief that everyone would share in the need to crack down on Chinese abuse of trade agreements, that everyone would agree that we need to put as many tools in the tool kit as possible to enforce and monitor their compliance, to bring about that transparency so that the world community can see what is going on, can see where there are distortions, can see where there is manipulation; and now it is back today for a straight up-or-down vote.

Yesterday, it got 240 votes. Today, I hope it gets even more. Yesterday there were 19 Democrats who supported it. There were five Republicans who opposed it. It is a bipartisan effort, bipartisan angst, bipartisan support. I urge the Members to pass the rule and the underlying bill.

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