As America’s economy continues the uphill climb to recovery and the creation of good jobs for skilled workers, we must remain vigilant in the struggle to end cheating by the nations with which we trade. Energy independence, profits and wages from the new energy sector and construction and infrastructure expansion are opportunities for American businesses and workers that must be protected.
China Made to Play by Rules
Though it has been slow in coming, there is some good news to report in the ongoing battle to force China to play by fair, agreed upon trade rules, or punish them when they do not. It is no secret that the Chinese are among the worst international actors when it comes to keeping trade agreements and engaging in illegal trade practices. As you all know, I have been fighting bad trade deals, especially those with China and the other nations it uses to transship goods, since I first went into office. I am happy to report that Washington may be starting to pay attention.
On Wednesday, the United States Commerce Department issued a ruling charging Chinese solar panel firms with illegal trade practices, hitting Chinese producers with tariffs ranging from 15 to 250 percent for various unfair practices that have hurt American businesses and workers and unfairly given China a disproportionate share of the U.S. market. This is a small and belated response to the constant cheating and rule breaking of our Chinese competitors, but at least it is a start. It is my goal to go industry by industry and product by product into America’s trade agreements with China and punish them each and every time they cheat.
Fair global competition and trade have contributed to the advancement of civilization for thousands of years. I welcome it in full faith that American workers and investors and entrepreneurs will win any fair contest with foreign competitors. Fair trade is necessary to allow American businesses to sell goods abroad. Unfair trade with cheater nations neither advances the cause of civilization nor does it grow the American economy. My stand is simple: If you cheat us out of American jobs, you can’t sell your products here, period!
The increased restrictions on Chinese solar panels will allow American businesses to innovate, invest in and profit from one of the key energy resources of the future. We should not trade our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign solar panels or any other technology that can be made just as well by American workers. While I am pleased with the Commerce Department’s decision to punish China for this latest round of cheating, I am angry that the sanctions do not include products manufactured in other countries that are made with Chinese materials. I continue to call on the Commerce Department and Congress to close these transshipment loopholes in order to fully crack down on the complex and widespread nature of China’s trade deceits.
Another step taken this week to help defend the American economy from the assaults of our overseas rivals is an effort moving through Congress to keep foreign steel pipe and tube makers from dumping greatly deflated priced goods into the American market for the purpose of unfairly competing with American producers.
Next week, the U.S. International Trade Commission will hold a hearing on dumping and other unfair practices for standard steel pipe, the kind of pipe common in plumbing and construction. I have joined with members of Congress to support sanctions against steel pipe made in India, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Imports from these four countries nearly doubled from 2009 to 2011. Producers from these countries sold pipe in the United States at what are considered “dumping margins.” These unfairly traded imports have led to the significant loss of market share for the domestic industry despite a recent increase in demand.
In these difficult economic times for the American people, it is important that a fair chance be given to an industry and a workforce that have been devastated by unfair trade practices. American companies and their employees have fought too long and too hard to be forced into ruin by foreign countries that cheat, and then sell cheap.
Defending the American Worker
Led by innovation, the entrepreneurial spirit and the best workforce on the planet, America’s economy is fighting its way back, and other countries know it. Our trade competitors cheat and deceive and manipulate in order to get their products on our soil while denying us access to their markets. Other nations know that our great nation is poised for a private sector led, manufacturing based economic resurgence. Foreign competitors are lining up at every port hoping to sell their steel and solar panels and the other hard goods we will require in order to rebuild, retool and re-establish our economy. We should not let them unload those goods if they cheat. I do not fear fair trade. I know, as do those with whom we trade, that given a fair chance in this contest, America will win and prosper. The time has come for the government of the United States to do two things: 1) start to make life a little more difficult on the cheater nations who steal our jobs; and 2) make life a little easier on American businesses and workers who need fair access to foreign markets in order to reach their full potential.
There is much work to be done in the cause of American manufacturing, and I am helping lead that fight. The good news is that some progress is being made and people in both parties and various departments and branches of government are finally, slowly coming around to the effort. But we must remain committed to the cause of defending American jobs and force our trading competitors to play fair, or turn their boats around.