·  USW

USW Urges U.S. to Reject Latest Doha Paper for WTO Rules

Contact:  Gary Hubbard, 202-778-4384; 202-256-8125


Pittsburgh (Dec. 29) – Leo W. Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers (USW), today issued a statement and release of a letter calling on the Bush administration’s top negotiators in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to again reject the latest draft rules that would weaken workers’ defense against predatory trade practices by undermining U.S. trade laws on illegal dumping and subsidies.

Gerard was emphatic about the proposed WTO rules as weakening U.S. trade remedies and workers’ jobs. In a letter to Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, U.S. Department of Commerce and Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, U.S. Trade Representative, he declared: “We will actively oppose ongoing efforts by some of our trading partners to cripple our economy and our rights to seek redress.”

Gerard wrote, “The USW views as essential to any forward movement in multilateral negotiations the much needed rebalancing of the WTO trade remedy agreements to correct the abuses of the appellate body in imposing obligations never agreed by the United States and in ensuring that our laws are preserved and strengthened.”

The USW said it is pledged to work with the incoming Obama Administration and Congress to strengthen, not weaken trade laws against unfair imports to benefit domestic workers. “Trade remedies that ensure conditions of fair competition in the U.S. are vital to our members’ livelihood in numerous manufacturing sectors,” Gerard declared.

“When companies and workers face unfair trade in the form of dumping or subsidization, our members are the first to suffer the serious harm that follows.  Companies are then forced to reduce payroll, cut jobs and benefits and -- worst of all -- stop investing in their future in the U.S.” 

The WTO draft rules paper released Dec. 18, 2008, has already received a strong statement of disappointment. The U.S. government cited a complete failure of the draft in addressing an overreach by decisions of the WTO appellate body on the right of member countries to assess duties on 100 percent of the dumping orders on imports.

In response to a similar rules proposal by the WTO rules language last December, the USW had also flagged objection to persistent efforts by trading partners aimed at undermining the mandate set out by Congress in the Trade Act of 2002 to avoid agreements that lessen the effectiveness of domestic and international rules on unfair trade, especially for dumping and subsidies.

Gerard pointed out specific problems with the WTO rules text, saying, “There has never been a time when effective trade remedies are more important to our workers and domestic manufacturers -- with the staggering trade deficit the nation faces, with the beggar-thy-neighbor policies being followed by some of our major trading partners, and with the painful economic recession that has gripped our country for the last year.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America and represents over 850,000 workers. A copy of the complete USW letter to the U.S. trade negotiators is available here.


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