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House Democrats Call on Bush Administration to Act to Remove Unfair Trade Barriers, Not Just "Estimate" Them

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


House Democrats Call on Bush Administration to Act to Remove Unfair Trade Barriers, Not Just "Estimate" Them

Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, House Ways and Means Ranking Member Charles Rangel and other House Democrats sent a letter to the President after the release of the National Trade Estimates report urging President Bush to take immediate action to address the unfair trade barriers standing in the way of U.S. exports. (Letter attached below.)

"After the loss of almost three million manufacturing jobs since January 2001, and the growing problem of outsourcing in the services sector, it is time to stop taking inventory and time to start producing results for American workers, farmers and businesses," said the authors of the letter.

The letter urges the President to direct the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to begin immediate consultations with five key U.S. trading partners - China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and India - and to file within 60 days seven additional cases in the World Trade Organization (WTO) if consultations do not resolve each case.

The cases include ones involving European subsidies to Airbus, various Japanese and Korean barriers to U.S. exports of autos and auto parts, India's non tariff barriers on textiles, lack of intellectual property protection by India, and a growing number of areas in which China is not living up to its WTO commitments, such as denial of trading rights and distribution barriers.

The letter highlights the fact that "[i]n the three years the Bush Administration has been in office, USTR has brought an average of fewer than three cases per year in the WTO. By contrast, the Clinton Administration brought approximately ten cases per year in the WTO."

The Democrats also announced they would introduce legislation to revive a key tool of U.S. law used by past Republican and Democratic administrations - the so-called "Super 301" statute. The legislation would require USTR to prioritize foreign market barriers to American products and services and take action (through the WTO in most cases) if the problem cannot be resolved in 60 days. They ask the President to work for swift passage of this legislation and in the meantime to re-instate its provisions at once by Executive Order, as President Clinton did on three occasions in the 1990s.

"(I)t is not enough simply to sign a trade agreement and move on to negotiating the next one. To restore credibility to the trading system, agreements have to be enforced," the letter to the President said.

The letter was sent by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD.) Ways and Means senior Democrats Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), Sander Levin (D-MI.), and Robert T. Matsui (D-CA), and Reps. John Spratt (D-SC), George Miller (D-CA.), James Clyburn (D-SC), Ron Kind (D-WI), Jim Davis (D-FL), Adam Smith (D-WA), Max Sandlin (D-TX), and Artur Davis (D-AL).

March 31, 2004

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to urge that your Administration start to enforce vigorously the rights of American workers, farmers and businesses under U.S. trade agreements. Tomorrow, your Administration is required by law to release the "National Trade Estimates" report, an annual "inventory" of trade barriers to U.S. exports of goods and services, investment and intellectual property rights.

In recent years, the NTE report and other Administration reports have time and again identified a number of important barriers - among them, European subsidies to Airbus, various Japanese and South Korean barriers to U.S. exports of autos and auto parts, discriminatory taxes and charges on textile imports applied by India, lack of enforcement by India of U.S. copyrights and trademarks, and a growing number of areas in which China is not living up to its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), such as denial of trading rights. In many of these areas and others, the USTR has, in its 2001, 2002, and 2003 reports carefully documented these problems, but taken no action to redress or eliminate them.

After the loss of almost three million manufacturing jobs since January 2001, and the growing problem of outsourcing in the services sector, it is time to stop taking inventory and time to start producing results for American workers, farmers and businesses. In the three years that the Bush Administration has been in office, USTR has brought an average of fewer than three cases per year in the WTO. By contrast, the Clinton Administration brought approximately ten cases per year in the WTO.

Consequently, we urge you to direct the USTR to request immediate consultations with five key U.S. trading partners - China, the European Union, Japan, South Korea and India - and to file within 60 days seven additional cases in the WTO, unless during the "consultation" period the problem in each case is successfully resolved. The details of each case are set forth in an Appendix to this letter.

These are priority practices that violate America's trade agreements, are unfair and block American exports of goods and services. Five of the cases have been exhaustively documented by your USTR itself in the last three NTE reports. One, involving the so-called Wi-Fi problem in China is relatively new. However, China's extraordinarily bold and discriminatory actions in that case have already caused significant damage to U.S. high technology companies and are almost certain to cause substantially more harm in the coming months unless the Administration takes swift action to challenge these egregious practices, rather than just repeating its entreaties to China at however senior a level. Another market access practice, involving Japan's ongoing manipulation of its currency, is causing major damage to the American automotive, auto parts and other industries, and is inexplicably missing from these NTE reports.

The results of the Bush USTR's hands-off enforcement approach are, unfortunately, all too clear. Trade agreements, of course, are not solely responsible for the poor trade or economic performance of the last three years. Yet, in each year of this Administration, various records associated with the U.S. trade deficit have been set. Last year, for example, the goods trade deficit set a record high of $549.4 billion, the U.S. saw the deficit in advanced technology products climb 65 percent, and total goods exports were down $58 million from 2000.

Simply put, it is not enough just to sign a trade agreement and move on to negotiating the next one. To restore credibility to the trading system, agreements have to be enforced.

Finally, today legislation is being introduced to revive a key tool of U.S. law used by Republican and Democratic administrations alike in the past - the so-called "Super 301" statute. This legislation will help call attention to the most important barriers to U.S. exports and strengthen the hand of the United States to make sure it gets what it bargained for in trade agreements. We hope that the White House will work for swift passage of this legislation this spring.

Until the legislation is passed, we are calling on you to re-instate its provisions at once by Executive Order, as President Clinton did on three occasions in the 1990s.

Without vigorous and responsible enforcement, trade agreements will increasingly be seen to be part of the problem. By contrast, a policy of expanded trade under agreements that shape the terms of trade, coupled with vigorous enforcement of those agreements, can be a part of the solution.

Sincerely,

Nancy Pelosi
Steny H. Hoyer
Charles B. Rangel
Sander M. Levin
Robert T. Matsui
George Miller
John M. Spratt
Jim Davis
Ron Kind

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