U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Co-Chairs of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, today introduced new bipartisan legislation, the China Fair Trade Act, which would prevent the United States government from using taxpayer dollars to buy Chinese products and services until China ends anti-competitive trade practices blocking American products. Right now, the U.S. government purchases Chinese tires, ammunition, office equipment, and other Chinese products, while China refuses to buy any American products, shutting U.S. businesses out of the roughly $500 billion Chinese government procurement market. The legislation stops the Federal government from purchasing Chinese products until China stops discriminating against American-made products. The bill is the newest provision of Senator Stabenow's American Competitiveness Plan to ensure U.S. businesses and workers can become more globally competitive and create more jobs in America.
Following the announcement that the 2012 U.S. Olympic team uniforms were made in China, Sen. Stabenow also co-sponsored the Team USA Made in America Act to require future Olympic uniforms be made in America. Since then, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced they would require all American uniforms to be American made at the next Olympics in 2014.
"These anti-competitive practices by China hurt American businesses and workers," said Stabenow. "We should be exporting our products, not our jobs. And we certainly shouldn't be sending tax dollars overseas to purchase Chinese goods when American manufacturers don't have access to their markets because of these anti-competitive practices. On the eve of the Olympics, it's time China learned to compete on a level playing field and follow the same rules as everyone else."
Despite being a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for thirteen years, China prevents American and other foreign companies from bidding on Chinese government contracts through an "indigenous innovation" program. Unfortunately, the United States cannot successfully challenge this program at the WTO until the Chinese government agrees to sign onto the Agreement of Governmental Procurement, which China has not. By signing this agreement, China will be forced to end its discriminatory program, and allow American companies to bid on Chinese government contracts.
Senator Stabenow has long-championed efforts to ensure that U.S. businesses and workers are more globally competitive and create more jobs in America. Last year, Senator Stabenow introduced her American Competitiveness Plan to crack down on other countries' trade violations. One of the main provisions of Stabenow's Plan, which called for a trade enforcement unit to hold countries that violate trade laws accountable, was created by President Obama earlier this year. Other provisions of Stabenow's plan include a bill to crackdown on China's currency manipulation (which passed the Senate last year with overwhelming bipartisan support) and provisions to strengthen penalties for foreign companies who steal American technology and intellectual property.