WASHINGTON (Feb. 1, 2012)—Labor leaders and members of Congress called for tougher enforcement of U.S. trade laws to protect American auto parts and tire industry jobs, in a Jan. 31 press conference.
More than 1.6 million U.S. jobs in the tire and auto parts industries will be jeopardized if Congress and the Obama administration don't act to shore up U.S. trade law enforcement, members of Congress and labor officials said at the event in the U.S. Capitol.
The reports—one by the Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, the other two by the Economic Policy Institute—charge the Chinese government has a long-standing policy of gaining global market share in auto parts through industry subsidies, domestic content and technology transfer requirements, and restraints on the export of key raw materials.
The U.S. trade deficit in auto parts grew to almost $10 billion in 2011, nearly 10 times what it was in 2001, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who spoke at the event.
Citing the Obama administration's Section 421 tariffs on Chinese tires for which the United Steelworkers petitioned, Sen. Brown said, “We know that trade actions work directly to preserve jobs. They're good for workers, good for manufacturers, and good particularly for the automotive supply chain.”
Quoting from the reports, USW International President Leo W. Gerard noted that 75 percent of U.S. auto industry jobs are in auto parts. “If we don't stand up to China now, when will we do it?” he said.
All participants in the conference praised President Obama for promising to set up a Trade Enforcement Arm to address unfair trade practices by China and other countries, but added he needed to act quickly and forcefully.
Sen. Brown called for House passage of S. 1619—the Currency Exchange Reform Act of 2011—which the Senate passed in December 2011. The bill sets forth remedies to currency undervaluation by China and other countries.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., called on Congress to develop and pass a bill to counter a December 2011 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
That decision, an appeal by the Commerce Department from the Court of International Trade, involved the tariffs Commerce placed on off-the-road tires from China. The appeals court not only affirmed the trade court's decision reversing the tariffs, but ruled that U.S. law prohibits countervailing duties on products from non-market economies such as China.