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What They’re Saying: United States Challenges China’s Export Duties on Nine Key Raw Materials to Level Playing Field for American Manufacturers

“It all comes down to fair competition—a notion that is fundamental to who we are as Americans. And one of the most important ways we have done that is by enforcing our trade laws—more aggressively than any previous Administration in history. Because here’s what I know—given a level playing field, American businesses and American workers will out-compete anyone. Period.”- Vice President Biden

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement action against the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s export duties on nine different raw materials.  These nine raw materials – antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum, and tin – are key inputs into high-value Made-in-America products in vital industrial sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and chemicals. This enforcement action marks the 13th trade enforcement case the Obama Administration has launched against China at the WTO – more than any other WTO country over the same period, so that we may level the playing field for American workers and manufacturers across the country.

Below are reactions to the announcement:

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman: “These duties are China’s attempt to game the system so that raw materials are cheaper for their manufacturers and more expensive for ours. This scheme is directly at odds with WTO commitments China has made, and as we’ve shown time and again, we will hold them accountable to their commitments. This case is part of the Administration’s continuing work to level playing field for American workers and manufacturers in order to grow our economy and support quality jobs here at home.” [Ambassador Michael Froman, 7/13/2016]

U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “As a member of the WTO, China has undertaken commitments to refrain from imposing these export duties, which discriminate against other members. At a time when trade protectionism is on the rise worldwide and trade is declining, all WTO members should renew their commitment to avoid export restraints. Accordingly, the U.S. Chamber supports this action by the administration and will continue to support efforts by the U.S. government to enforce trade agreements and ensure a level playing field for American companies and workers.” [U.S. Chamber Supports WTO Dispute Against Chinese Export Duties, 07/13/2016]

National Association of Manufacturers: “Manufacturers strongly support the administration’s action today to ensure a level playing field and fair competition in the global economy. Export restrictions distort markets, drive up costs for consumers and hurt manufacturers in the United States as well as around the world.” [Timmons Hails USTR Announcement on China, 07/13/2016]

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR): “When it comes to trade enforcement, tough talk is easy. American workers and businesses need action. Enforcement actions such as those announced today are critical to ensuring that China lives up to its trade obligations, and that American workers get a fair shake. The new trade enforcement bill I fought to pass earlier this year includes new tools to ensure that the administration identifies enforcement priorities and takes concrete steps to follow through. I am pleased that the Obama Administration is taking this step and hope it continues to use all available trade enforcement tools to tackle other big challenges, including rampant Chinese subsidies to steel, aluminum and other commodities that have driven overcapacity and decimated American manufacturers.” [Senator Ron Wyden, 07/13/2016]

Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-03): “It is the responsibility of the United States to lead the way in fighting for fair trade standards. Today’s action against China is a step in the right direction towards creating a more level playing field for American workers, farmers, and businesses,” [Representative Ron Kind, 07/13/2016]

Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA-02): “I applaud today’s trade enforcement action – which is exactly the type of action I had in mind when I helped push for the Trade Enforcement Trust Fund last year. If countries are going to trade with the United States they need to do so under good faith and in accordance with international standards,” [Representative Rick Larsen, 07/03/2016]

Politico: “The U.S. case goes after Chinese export duties ranging from 5 to 20 percent on nine raw materials - antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin - used in a number of industrial sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics and chemicals. The export taxes raise the prices of the raw materials for manufacturers outside of China, while lowering the prices paid by China's own companies.” [USTR mounts new trade case against China at WTO, 07/13/2016]

Wall Street Journal: “Besides the WTO cases, the U.S. has also imposed dozens of punitive tariffs on Chinese products in recent years after complaints from American industry that the products were being dumped at unfair prices on the U.S. market or unfairly subsidized in China.” [U.S. Brings WTO Challenge Against China Over Copper, Graphite, Other Minerals, 07/13/2016]

Reuters: “The U.S. Trade Representative's offices said it is seeking to remove China's export duties ranging from five percent to 20 percent on antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin, which it said are key inputs to U.S. industrial sectors including aerospace, autos, electronics and chemicals.” [U.S. challenges China export duties on nine raw materials, 07/13/2016]

Bloomberg: “U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman announces trade enforcement action over China’s export duties on antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum and tin.” [U.S. Launches WTO Challenge on China Raw Materials Export Duties, 07/13/2016]

The Associated Press: “The administration is eager to show that it is tough on trade. Wednesday's case against China was announced hours before Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to give a speech in San Diego touting the White House's record on trade enforcement. The administration has brought 13 cases against China before the WTO.” [US Brings WTO Case Against Chinese Taxes on Raw Materials, 07/13/2016]

Forbes: “Despite the call from the Trump camp that Obama has been weak on China, the president has been no stranger to Chinese trade disputes. Wednesday’s filing marks the 13th U.S. trade enforcement action against China at the WTO and the second trade dispute this year. The most public one was the recent move by the Obama Administration to increase import tariffs on China steel. As expected, China is using this week’s announcement by the USTR to take its steel fight to the WTO too.” [Obama Outdoes Trump As China WTO Battle Begins Again, 7/13/2016]

Los Angeles Times: “In an enforcement action filed with the World Trade Organization, the U.S. said China failed to abide by a commitment to eliminate duties of 5% to 20% charged on exports of materials, including cobalt, copper, graphite, lead and tin. The materials are vital to manufacturing in important U.S. industrial sectors, such as aerospace, automotive, electronics and chemicals, said the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office.” [U.S. files trade complaint against China over duties on key raw materials, 07/13/2016]

Financial Times: “The complaint is the latest sign that sentiment in Washington, which only last year embraced sweeping trade deals with both the EU and east Asia, has become increasingly volatile towards free trade amid rising anger in the electorate.” [Obama steps up trade battle with China, 07/13/2016]

Inside U.S. Trade: “According to the U.S., China was supposed to eliminate the duties after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001 but didn't. The duties give U.S. companies an incentive to relocate to China to dodge the higher costs.” [U.S. Launches WTO Action Against China Over Nine Raw Materials, 07/13/2016]

The Washington Times: “In a move that could impact the presidential campaign, the Obama administration leveled a new trade complaint against China Wednesday at the World Trade Organization, accusing Beijing of failing to eliminate export duties on nine raw materials.” [Obama files new trade complaint against China with WTO, 07/13/2016]

San Diego Union-Tribune: “The United States has lodged a trade complaint against China for charging illegal export duties on raw materials, trade officials said Wednesday morning ahead of a San Diego speech by Vice President Joe Biden. The grievance filed with the World Trade Organization said China's fees had violated an agreement with the organization and hurt U.S. companies.” [U.S. Charges China with Trade Violations, 07/13/2016]

The Associated Press: “The White House says Biden is set to deliver remarks Wednesday afternoon at the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal. He is expected to say that since 2009 the administration has brought more trade enforcement cases at the World Trade Organization than any other WTO member and has won all that have been decided. The White House says those victories have helped remove trade barriers and increase export opportunities worth billions of dollars to American workers, farmers, and businesses.” [VP Biden to tout Obama's trade enforcement record in San Diego, 7/13/2016]

CBS 8 San Diego: “Vice President Joe Biden was in San Diego Wednesday and said an enforcement action filed by the U.S. against China at the World Trade Organization will benefit Qualcomm, the San Diego-based manufacturer of mobile device chips, and DJO Global, which makes medical devices in Vista.” [CBS News 8 Exclusive: One-on-one with Vice President Biden, 7/13/16]

Fox 5 San Diego: “Vice President Joe Biden said today that an enforcement action filed by the U.S. against China at the World Trade Organization will benefit Qualcomm, the San Diego-based manufacturer of mobile device chips, and DJO Global, which makes medical devices in Vista…’Here in San Diego alone -- let me tell you what I mean -- Qualcomm, when we win, is going to pay less for Chinese tin than it pays now and no more than any Chinese company because Qualcomm makes semiconductors,'’ Biden said. ‘We'll reduce the costs of them making those semiconductors and make them more competitive, not only in this market against Chinese companies, but worldwide.'’” [Joe Biden touts Obama’s trade enforcement record in San Diego, 7/13/2016]

Times of San Diego: “According to Biden’s office, the Obama administration has brought more trade enforcement cases at the WTO since 2009 than any other member, removing trade barriers and increasing export opportunities worth billions of dollars to American workers, farmers, and businesses…The administration has issued more than 300 antidumping and countervailing duty orders, launched the first labor rights case under a free trade agreement, and signed into law bipartisan customs legislation that provides additional tools and bolsters resources for trade enforcement efforts, according to Biden’s office.” [Biden Says Trade Enforcement Will Help San Diego’s Qualcomm, DJO Global, 7/13/2016]

San Diego Jewish World: “In a strongly worded speech, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday warned foreign competitors that if they overtax U.S.-bound goods, or sell their products at a loss in the United States to drive down American competition, the U.S. government will file suit against them at the World Trade Organization and press for compensation.” [Don’t cheat against U.S., Biden warns trade partners, 7/13/16]

Voice of America: “The United States has launched a new trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over export duties that Beijing charges on nine raw materials, which makes them more expensive for U.S. manufacturers... Such duties impose higher costs on U.S. manufacturers, while Chinese competitors do not have to pay them, which serves as a financial incentive for companies to locate production in China.” [US Challenges China’s Export Duties on Key Raw Materials at WTO, 07/13/2016]