At a press conference in Flint today U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow unveiled her "American Competiveness Plan," a set of action steps designed to ensure U.S. businesses and workers can become more globally competitive and create more jobs in America. Stabenow's plan includes several bills, which now have bipartisan support, designed to stand up for American businesses by cracking down on other countries' trade violations that give their companies an anti-competitive advantage.
Senator Stabenow unveiled her plan from the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce Headquarters in downtown Flint. She was joined by business leaders and Mayor Dayne Walling who agreed that stronger action to stop other countries' anti-competitive trade practices was critical to bolster U.S. job creation.
Senator Stabenow said: "Our country needs to be exporting our products, not our jobs. If we want to get our economy back on track we need to stand up for American businesses and workers to help them compete and win globally. It's long-past time that Congress got tough with other countries who are violating international trade law to give their own companies an anti-competitive advantage."
Tim Herman, CEO, Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce said: "Our top priority is to work with businesses to grow the number of jobs and investment in the Flint-Genesee County area. It's good to see that Congress is taking a serious look at ways to help American businesses become more globally competitive and ultimately create more jobs."
John Matonich, President and CEO, Rowe Professional Services Company and Chairman of the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce said: "American businesses can compete with anyone around the world as long as it's on a level playing field. I congratulate Senator Stabenow for standing up for businesses through her American Competitiveness Plan."
Dayne Walling, Mayor of Flint said: "The workers and companies in Flint and Michigan can successfully compete in the global economy with a level playing field. I applaud U.S. Senator Stabenow's leadership in moving Congress forward with enforcing trade laws that will protect America's international interests and create jobs here at home in places like Flint and Genesee County."
The first item in Senator Stabenow's American Competitiveness Plan, cracking down on currency manipulation, overcame a major hurdle last week in the Senate setting up a likely vote on final passage this week. Senator Stabenow has been a leader in the effort to stop currency manipulation, and in all areas of her Competitiveness plan, for years. Estimates suggest stopping China's illegal currency manipulation could help spur the creation of up to 1.6 million American jobs, while stopping manipulation in all countries could create as many as 2.25 million jobs.
And ending currency manipulation would also reduce the deficit-the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that initial duties collected from Stabenow's plan to stop manipulation would save $65 million. However by creating new economic activity and jobs, some estimates suggest total deficit reduction would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
"China's illegal currency manipulation directly translates to lost American jobs and suffering for families, especially in Michigan," said Sen. Stabenow. "I've been fighting to stop China's illegal action on currency for years, and with bipartisan momentum growing, now is the time for Congress to finally get this done. Standing up to China to stop this practice would create American jobs and reduce the deficit at the same time."
Stabenow, a member of the President's Export Council under both Presidents Bush and Obama, said that Michigan exports are on the rise, a bright spot in Michigan's economy. Last year, Michigan exported over $44 billion worth of goods and services-a 37% increase over 2009. Michigan is now the 8th largest exporting state in the country. As the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Stabenow specifically noted that Michigan agricultural exports increased by 50% between 2004 and 2009. Stabenow said given the promise increased exports have for our state's economy, getting tough on other countries who cheat international trade laws is especially important for Michigan.
Stabenow's American Competitiveness Plan consists of three parts:
Cracking down on currency manipulation: China and several other countries illegally and intentionally devalue their currency in relation to the dollar to make their own goods artificially cheaper. By some estimates, China's goods may be up to 40% cheaper than American goods solely because of China's currency manipulation-meaning a product made in Michigan may cost $100, while a Chinese product made of the same materials and produced in the exact same way would cost $60. The Stabenow-cosponsored currency bill would require the U.S. government to act to stop currency manipulation through the World Trade Organization and level the playing field by putting duties on the goods of countries that break the rules to offset the effects of manipulation.
Creating a trade prosecutor to hold other countries accountable: Other countries abuse international trade law at the expense of American businesses and too often face no retribution. In fact, former Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor testified at a recent Finance Committee hearing that the U.S. has the smallest trade enforcement office of any industrialized country, despite having entered into more than 300 trade agreements. Senator Stabenow's Competitiveness Plan would create a trade prosecutor whose sole responsibility would be to identify ways that other countries are breaking international trade law and bring them to justice.
Stopping the theft of American ideas and technologies: Foreign companies constantly violate international intellectual property laws, engaging in the outright theft of American entrepreneurs' ideas and our country's cutting edge technologies. Senator Stabenow's American Competitiveness Plan contains a number of measures to attack intellectual property theft. The first provision is a new "three strikes and you're out" law for foreign importers of counterfeit goods -a violator would get fined on the first offense, banned from doing business in America for one year after the 2nd offense, and if a violator gets caught three times-they will never be allowed to do business in the United States ever again. Other provisions include new fines for violators, the creation of a "watch list" to alert customs and border security about shipments from those suspected of breaking the law and more resources for customs agents to focus on intellectual property theft.