U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill issued the following statement after the President announced that the United States has formally asked the World Trade Organization (WTO) to investigate China's restrictions on exports of raw materials, including rare earth elements critical to the nation's defense and high technology sectors:
"We will not stand by and let China restrict access to materials that are critical to our economic and national security interests. We must ensure they don't hold our businesses hostage in order to get ahead."
The President called on the WTO, in conjunction with the European Union and Japan, to facilitate talks with China over its restrictions on the export of rare earth materials, which are often used in the manufacture of critical weapons systems, as well as hybrid car batteries, flat screen televisions and other high technology products.
McCaskill has steadfastly worked to shed light on China's unfair trade practices, including sponsoring the Critical Minerals Policy Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) that would boost domestic production of rare earth minerals, reducing our reliance on China. The bill would ensure reliable access to the valuable minerals for both business and defense purposes.
Last week, McCaskill told the International Trade Commission (ITC), the entity charged with punishing unfair trade practices, that China is engaged in actions that are unfairly harming a Missouri employer. Testifying on behalf of Hayes Lemmerz - a steel wheels plant that employs more than 300 people in Sedalia, Mo.- McCaskill supported the company's case brought against Chinese companies that the Chinese government is providing subsidies to its steel wheel manufacturers in order to create an unfair advantage for Chinese companies over U.S. manufacturers.
While on her Missouri Manufacturing Jobs Tour last year, McCaskill heard from many companies expressing frustration that an increasing number of foreign shippers, namely from China, are using unscrupulous and illegal tactics to avoid paying penalties they owe for illegal trade practices. McCaskill subsequently introduced legislation to close loopholes that enable fraud, and to give law enforcement officials better tools to find and prosecute lawbreakers.