(Pittsburgh) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today praised President Obama for his commitment to workers in America’s auto and auto parts sector by announcing a new effort to fight Chinese unfair trade practices.
In January, the USW, joined by other unions, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Sandy Levin, along with other leading members of Congress, highlighted a broad array of practices and policies adopted by China to promote its auto and auto parts sector to the disadvantage of foreign producers and their workers. Following this, 189 Members of Congress wrote to the President, asking that action be initiated by his Administration to address China’s practices.
Today, the Administration announced that action will be initiated to address China’s export subsidies, a critical component of their programs to flood the U.S. with unfairly priced auto parts. “Today’s announcement makes clear the President’s commitment to enforcing U.S. trade laws and fighting for American workers,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “His action, coupled with other steps to fight for fair trade, are rebuilding confidence that when people work hard and play by the rules, the President will stand up for them. He’s making it clear to China that their unfair, predatory and protectionist policies must end.”
It’s the first action of the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) created by the President designed to act as a SWAT team to identify and end unfair foreign trade practices. The creation of the ITEC makes clear that the President doesn’t view a ‘business as usual’ approach as sufficient. The ITEC solidifies the commitment of the Obama Administration to fighting unfair trade practices and provides the necessary tools to step up the fight.
“The effort will challenge China’s use of export-contingent subsidies that are illegal under the terms of China’s WTO membership,” said Gerard. “These subsidies of at least $1 billion have helped fuel 60 percent of Chinese auto parts exports. These policies, and others, are the foundation upon which the Chinese want to become a dominant player in the auto and auto parts sector and are identified in their 12th Five Year Plan and other actions.
“Four years ago, America’s auto industry was on the ropes. The President stepped in and provided the support General Motors and Chrysler needed to avoid bankruptcy. The President knew that failing to act would cripple the industry and jeopardize the jobs of countless Americans. Today, the industry is back – returning to profitability, creating good family-supportive jobs, producing great cars and establishing America as an automotive powerhouse. The President knew that bankruptcy and ‘creative destruction’ wasn’t an option to help rebuild America.
“The President’s actions made all the difference in stabilizing the auto assembly sector. Today, the President is making clear that the job is not over and that creating a level playing field for those companies and workers making auto parts must occur. Since China entered the World Trade Organization, it has put in place policies and programs that unfairly promote the interests of its auto sector to the detriment of the rest of the world. The U.S. has been the principal target of China’s efforts with its policies contributing to the loss of roughly 400,000 auto parts sector jobs since 2001. Last year, China flooded the U.S. market with more than $11 billion of auto parts, an increase of nearly 900 percent since 2000. At present growth rates, China’s exports of auto parts to the U.S. would reach almost $100 billion.
“Three-quarters of auto sector jobs are those making auto parts. Roughly 350,000 USW members make products that can end up in the auto supply chain ranging from the tires, windshields, steel, plastic, aluminum to the transmissions and many other products. The future of the entire auto sector is vital to our country, to hundreds of communities, thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands workers.
“In January, the Steelworkers, working with other unions and joined by Senators Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Sandy Levin, outlined the scope of the problem. These leaders called upon their colleagues – 185 of whom signed a letter calling for action. We’re proud of the work of the Steelworkers on this issue and the commitment of these leaders. They’re the kind of leaders we need fighting for jobs.
“The President’s actions are key in the fight for fair trade. Today he is initiating action, not waiting for a trade case to be prepared by the private sector and all the injury that must be shown to win a trade case. As the President led to save the Big Three, today he’s making clear that he won’t stand by, that he’s going to take the bull by the horns.
“The fight for fair trade is going to be a key issue in this year’s elections. Fighting for fair trade doesn’t mean talking tough one day, but shipping jobs overseas the next. Today’s actions make clear whose side the President is on.”
The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glassmaking to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber to the public sector, service and health care industries.
Click Here to go to the official statement.
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