USW Declares Support for 'Trade Enforcement Priorities Act' to Create Jobs

New bill by key Senators to reinvigorate ‘Super 301’ authority for U.S. agency

Contact: Gary Hubbard, 202-778-4384, 202-256-8125, ghubbard@usw.org

Washington, DC (Nov. 3, 2009) – Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW) today announced strong support for the ‘Trade Enforcement Priorities Act of 2009’ (S. 1982) introduced by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that would breakdown foreign barriers for exports to help create American jobs.

Described as strengthening a trade law provision known as ‘Super 301,’ the legislation would require identification of priority trade barriers that hinder job creation and economic growth in the U.S. It would make sure foreign governments are living up to their trade agreements and not placing barriers that inhibit U.S. goods being shipped into their markets.
  
Gerard said, “The USW enthusiastically supports the efforts of Senators Brown, Stabenow and the other co-sponsors in taking this meaningful step forward to level the playing field for American manufacturers who export goods to foreign markets.  After the past eight years of trade enforcement inaction by the U.S. government, it’s high time we reinvigorate the Super 301 as a priority,” he declared. “We seek a more aggressive posture in eliminating foreign trade-distorting practices that undermine our manufacturing jobs.”

The USW president attributed the lack of government trade enforcement actions as major factors contributing to the nation’s unbalanced trade deficit and job losses.

Upon introducing the legislation, U.S. Sen. Brown stated: “This bill is about requiring our trading partners to live up to their obligations so that trade agreements benefit American workers and businesses instead of shortchanging them.”  Sen. Stabenow added, “This bill will hold countries accountable for violating our trade rules.” Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Arlen Specter (D-PA) are all original cosponsors of the bill.
 
The Brown-Stabenow Super 301 bill would ensure the federal government focuses on foreign trade practices that most negatively impact U.S. job creation and economic growth.  Gerard identifies that foreign predatory trade practices have contributed to the loss of over five million manufacturing jobs in the past decade, while eroding access for exports to foreign markets like China.

Gerard said by zeroing in on the most harmful trade practices by foreign governments, the U.S. can begin to rebalance trade. He points out the USTR in the past administration largely ignored these enforcement responsibilities, failing to issue a Super 301 report since 2001.

The ‘Super 301’ provision in the Trade Act of 1974, requires the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to examine and report on the most egregious trade barriers that adversely affect American exports. If the USTR identifies a measure as a “priority foreign country practice,” it will initiate a full Section 301 investigation – unless not in the economic interests of the U.S.

The USW is North America’s largest industrial union, representing 850,000 actively employed workers in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy producing industries.

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