This letter follows action by the United Steelworkers (USW) and others to identify broad sets of practices utilized by China to protect its auto parts sector to the disadvantage of its competitors. The Congressional letter ratifies USW concerns and calls for immediate action. The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States and Canada in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments.
The United Steelworkers (USW) says that America’s auto parts sector continues to be threatened by unfairly traded auto parts imports from China and its policies that exclude US products from their markets. The USW lauds the 188 members of Congress who signed the Congressional letter, demonstrating broad political support behind intentions to stop China’s protectionist, predatory and illegal trade practices.
The lawmakers included many from the auto manufacturing states of the upper Midwest, which will likely be important in Obama’s bid for re-election in November.
They said China uses a “vast array of policies” to give its auto parts producers an unfair trade advantage.
Those include Chinese limits on imports of foreign auto parts and subsidies that drive down the prices auto parts that are made in China, the lawmakers said.
“These tactics are working. Chinese auto parts exports are rapidly growing and have increased almost 900 percent since 2000,” the lawmakers said.
The appeal follows Obama’s recent decision to establish an interagency task force to boost U.S. enforcement of trade agreements. The lawmakers urged Obama “to use all existing authorities” to protect the U.S. auto parts sector, but did not outline a particular course of action.
Advocates have said the administration’s options include bringing a case at the World Trade Organization or initiating an action under U.S. trade remedy laws that would lead to duties or other restrictions on imports from China.
The USW also filed a petition with the US government alleging that the Chinese government unfairly favors, through subsidies and other trade measures, its domestic manufacturers of “green” goods like solar panels and wind turbines. The petition was filed under a section of US trade law—Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974—that was once a strong protectionist weapon but has basically gone dormant since the advent of the World Trade Organization.