Contacts: Gary Hubbard (202) 778-4384 or Wayne Ranick (412) 562-2444
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Steelworkers (USW) today lauded new legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and U.S. Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) that would support our nation’s workforce and strengthen the competitiveness of American industries globally, while enhancing the administration’s ability to reduce foreign trade barriers. The Reciprocal Market Access Act, which looks to reform the process by which goods are exchanged between the U.S. and other countries, is cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Kay R. Hagan (D-NC).
“We need to take action now to rebuild our economy by ensuring that American manufacturing can succeed globally,” said USW International President, Leo W. Gerard. “More than ever, it is critical that our trade negotiators enforce rules to ensure our industries can compete fairly and that we address our ballooning trade-deficit.”
The Reciprocal Market Access Act would instruct U.S. trade negotiators to eliminate foreign market barriers before reducing U.S. tariffs. This bill would also provide enforcement authority to reinstate the tariff if the foreign government does not honor its commitment to remove its barriers. The U.S. market is currently recognized as one of the most open markets in the world, but American industries face many obstacles when competing abroad due to non-tariff barriers (NTBs) in key markets, which unfairly limit access.
“American workers deserve a level playing field,” said Gerard. “We need trade policies that create opportunities and allow our manufacturing industries access to new markets.”
The new legislation would address this problem. Currently, tariff and non-tariff barriers are largely separate and self-contained, meaning that tradeoffs are tariff-for-tariff and non-tariff-for-non-tariff. The tariff-cutting negotiation process does not provide U.S. trade representatives the flexibility needed to exclude sectors that do not receive mutually beneficial trade concessions. The result is that a tariff can be reduced or eliminated without securing the elimination of the real barrier or barriers that deny market access to U.S. manufacturers’ exports.
“Eliminating U.S. tariffs without the elimination of non-tariff barriers provides full advantage to our competitors by allowing them to also protect their home markets,” said Gerard.