Owens Backs Bill to Level Playing Field Against China, Applauds New Center Aimed at Enforcing International Trade Rules

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bill Owens continued his fight today against unfair trade practices by China.  Owens signed on as an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation affirming the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ability to apply tariffs on artificially cheap goods from China.  The bill would overturn a December ruling by a U.S. Federal Appeals Court that struck down the Commerce Department’s authority to apply these tariffs.  The Strengthening America’s Trade Laws Act is critical to leveling the playing field for American small businesses and their employees.

“In order to build on five consecutive months of private sector job growth and create quality jobs here at home, it is critical that we fight for a level playing field in the global market,” said Owens. “This bill will ensure we continue to ratchet up the pressure on China to play by the rules of fair trade.”

Owens also applauded the consolidation of efforts within the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to coordinate the detection and enforcement of foreign violations of international trade rules. The new Interagency Trade Enforcement Center aims to challenge unfair trade practices by foreign nations, namely China. Owens has fought Chinese currency manipulation and identified the elimination of the practice as a way to bring jobs back to America.

“This center will help us to crack down on China for unfairly manipulating its currency and violating international agreements,” added Owens.

The Interagency Trade Enforcement Center will consolidate and coordinate enforcement of existing domestic and international trade rules. It will also coordinate with companies to share information on potential trade agreement violations.

On January 30, the New York Times reported on a World Trade Organization ruling that China has distorted international trade “through dozens of export policies it maintains” for nine different industrial minerals, and has violated the rules of free trade. The ruling exposed the latest in a series of trade manipulations by the Chinese government that Owens has been pushing the House of Representatives to respond to legislatively for more than a year.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that if China revalued the Yuan by 28.5%, U.S. GDP growth would support 1.6 million U.S. jobs.  If other Asian countries followed suit, a total of 2.2 million jobs could be created. The EPI study further estimates that nearly 2.8 million Americans have lost their jobs in the past decade due to the nation’s trade deficit with China.

The Chinese government continues to intervene in world markets to suppress the value of its currency by as much as 25 to 40 percent.  This unfair trade practice translates into a significant subsidy, artificially making Chinese imports into the United States cheaper and American imports to China more expensive.  The resulting imbalance jeopardizes efforts to create and preserve manufacturing jobs in America.

Mark Zandi of Moody Analytics testified in June 2011 that, “nothing is more important from a macroeconomic perspective for manufacturing, then to get these currencies better aligned.”