U.S. Sen. David Vitter today met with Ambassador Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative to discuss issues relating to Chinese drywall and its impact on Louisiana's recovery process. During the meeting, Vitter urged Ambassador Kirk to work with Chinese officials in order to bring about assurances that they will work to address problems caused by their drywall products and ensure that future products meet the same stringent standards as those imposed on domestic manufacturers.
"Federal and state laws place stringent requirements on construction materials manufactured in the United States," said Vitter. "Those same standards don't apply to goods produced in other nations, and substandard or unsafe construction products are imported into our country on a daily basis. Today I asked Ambassador Kirk to work with his Chinese counterparts as part of our ongoing trade engagement with China and urge them to implement appropriate safety standards and take responsibility for tainted imports so that we can help bring relief to homeowners and prevent the use of unsafe or substandard drywall in the future."
Recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is an ongoing process throughout much of Louisiana, and that process has been furthered complicated by the impact of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Unfair and unsafe trade practices have allowed tainted drywall imported from Chinese companies to be used in new home construction throughout Louisiana, and the use of this material has caused considerable danger and inconvenience to families across the state.
"For many families still living in temporary housing, problems with Chinese drywall have further compounded their distress, adding further insult to injury to what has already been a lengthy and frustrating process," said Vitter. "If China cannot -- or will not -- bring their products to a satisfactory level of function and safety we should look at other avenues to help prevent the import of drywall and similar products in the future."
Vitter has also been working with officials from the Louisiana Recovery Authority to help provide federal assistance through the Road Home program to affected families.