Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA) today issued the following statements on the announcement made by the U.S. Trade Representative that the United States has initiated a WTO challenge against China's unfair trade actions on American-made automobiles:
"I welcome the President's announcement today, and his continued focus on leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses," said Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin. "Let's not forget that China imposed these duties on American autos as an act of unilateral retaliation, because China wanted to punish the United States for exercising our right under WTO rules to address a surge in cheap Chinese tire imports. That act of retaliation was itself a violation of international law and a serious threat to the integrity of the world trading system. The President's action today is a measured and forceful response."
"The President has developed a strong record over the past three and a half years of standing up for American workers and businesses against China's predatory trade policies," said Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott. "Actions like this one today will help to increase American exports and to create American jobs."
The U.S.-China economic relationship has the potential to create jobs and raise living standards in both countries. But the relationship is imbalanced and unsustainable. Last year, our bilateral trade deficit with China was $295 billion, roughly 40% of the total U.S. trade deficit. China exports almost four times as much to the United States as the United States exports to China ($399 billon vs. $104 billion last year). This trade deficit is a drag on U.S. job creation and economic growth. According to a recent academic paper, between one quarter and one half of U.S. manufacturing jobs lost in the last decade were due to imports from China (i.e., one to two million jobs). China's trade and industrial policies contribute to that imbalance, and many of these policies appear to violate international trade rules.
The Obama Administration is working to address these issues. Most notably, the President in his most recent State of the Union Address announced the creation of an Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) and has proposed an additional $26 million to support the ITEC. (Ways and Means Democrats have long advocated for a more assertive approach to enforcement.) The Administration has also: (1) brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration; (2) taken a leading role internationally in publicly confronting China's use of intimidation and retaliation as a policy tool; and (3) taken bold new steps to match China's export financing where China fails to observe international disciplines.