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What They’re Saying: U.S. Enforcement Case against Unfair Chinese Export Subsidy Program

“President Obama has made vigorous enforcement a touchstone of his trade agenda. Under the President’s leadership, USTR will continue working tirelessly to ensure that China and all WTO Members play by the rules so we can grow solid, middle-class jobs here in America.  American workers, farmers, manufacturers, and businesses rank among the most productive and innovative in the world, and where there is a level playing field they can compete and win.  This Administration is dedicated to ensuring that they get all the economic opportunities we’ve negotiated under our trade agreements.”

-U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the United States has pursued dispute settlement consultations with the Government of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” export subsidy program.  Under this questionable program, China seems to provide prohibited export subsidies through “Common Service Platforms” to manufacturers and producers across seven economic sectors and dozens of sub-sectors located in more than one hundred and fifty industrial clusters throughout China known as “Demonstration Bases.”  This unfair Chinese program is harmful to American workers and American businesses of all sizes. This is the latest in a series of significant actions taken by the Obama Administration to stand up for labor rights internationally and level the playing field for American workers.

Below are reactions to today’s announcement:

Representative David Price (D-NC): “I am convinced that American workers and industry can compete with anyone in the world when given an even playing field and clear set of rules. That is why today’s action against China is important to American industry, particularly the textile industry, which has suffered from a lack of enforcement of international standards. While the WTO’s rules are limited in scope, they do provide an important framework for our international economic relationships, and it is imperative that the USTR enforce them.” [Representative David Price, 2/11/2015]     

Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA): “China’s actions are damaging our international marketplace, undercutting American businesses, and hurting workers in communities across our country. This case is about making sure the playing field is level and that China operates under the same fair and basic set of rules that American businesses and workers must abide by.”[Representative Mike Thompson, 2/11/2015]

Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA): “Unfairly subsidized shrimp imports threaten the historic Gulf shrimp industry that supports thousands of Louisiana families. I'll continue working with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to protect these jobs that are vital part of Louisiana’s economy and culture.” [Representative Charles Boustany, 2/11/2015]

Representative Jim Costa (D-CA): “China needs to engage in ‘above the board’ trading practices with the United States to increase market access for their products and ours. The Chinese market represents the third largest trading partner for California agriculture at roughly $1.4 billion. The export subsidies sponsored by the Chinese government for fruits, vegetables, and poultry will have a significant effect on California’s trade. That is why this challenge brought by the USTR is so important.” [Representative Jim Costa, 2/11/2015]

Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA): “China has illegally subsidized manufacturers and producers across seven economic sectors – several of which directly harm businesses and farms in my District. I’m grateful that Ambassador Froman is stepping in to help protect these industries not just in my state but for the whole county. We need strong rules to govern our trade policy, but equally important is the ability to enforce these rules.” [Representative Suzan DelBene, 2/11/2015]

Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA): "Washington State is the most trade dependent in the nation, which means our workers are counting on us to make sure they are competing on an even field. We have to be vigilant and make sure that trade rules are enforced so that other countries are held to the same high standards that we hold ourselves to." [Representative Derek Kilmer, 2/11/2015]

Representative Scott Peters (D-CA): “I am encouraged by this action to protect American companies and workers that are playing by international rules. Medical device companies in San Diego, where they employ nearly 11,000 workers, and across the United States should have fair opportunity to compete. As we work to expand global markets to American-made products, vigilant enforcement of the rules will only become more important.” [Representative Scott Peters, 2/11/2015]

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR): “When China breaks the rules, American workers depend on strong enforcement to ensure a level playing field. Today’s action shows that American manufacturing of everything from auto parts to specialty steel is on the line. This is why it is vital that we have strong enforcement provisions in any new trade legislation. Our companies and our workers cannot be expected to compete against companies that have an unfair advantage in trade, thanks to export subsidies handed out by every level in the Chinese government. I am pleased the Administration is taking this step to fight back.”  [Senate Finance Committee, 2/11/2015

Representative Sander Levin (D-MI): “The Administration has shown through its action today the importance of WTO rules that protect American manufacturing jobs and businesses. This case is clear cut: these types of export subsidies are prohibited because they profoundly distort trade and create serious disadvantages for competition.” [House Ways and Means Committee, 2/11/2015]

Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY): “We need to hold China accountable to the rules, even as it has meant preparing and filing case after case at the WTO. The American economy, including its businesses, workers, and farmers, rely on these types of actions to ensure that it can reap the benefits of trade. I commend the Administration’s work in bringing this case and urge USTR to keep fighting the good fight.” [House Ways and Means Committee, 2/11/2015]

United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard: “Last week’s trade statistics for 2014 showed a historic deficit with China as it continues to engage in predatory and protectionist trade practices. These efforts fuel their growth by flooding the United States with unfairly priced products, while limiting our exports to their market. Today’s action by the USTR is an important step in the effort to combat China’s export subsidies…The Obama Administration has worked hard to get China to play by the rules. The Chinese catalog of barriers is voluminous and taking action is a slow, grueling process. But, this broad-based effort will help dismantle a web of mechanisms designed to game the system and help establish a more level playing field for hard-working Americans. ” [United Steel Workers, 2/11/2015]

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul: “I applaud the Obama administration’s enforcement efforts to hold our trading partners, namely China, accountable. This is an important action, but is only the tip of the iceberg among China’s predatory trade practices. This administration needs to more aggressively confront China’s currency manipulation, which represents a massive export subsidy that undermines American manufacturers and workers.” [Alliance for American Manufacturing, 2/11/2015]

NCTO President Augustine Tantillo: “It has been NCTO’s long standing position that China’s rise in the global textile and apparel market has been substantially aided by illegal and unfair trading practices. These illegal practices distort the global market place and put the entire U.S. manufacturing base at a considerable disadvantage. We applaud the Obama Administration for today’s decision to hold our international trading competitors to their WTO obligations.” [NCTO, 2/11/2015]