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USW urges tough trade enforcement

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(Crain News Service photo by Bruce Meyer)
Leo Gerard

WASHINGTON (June 27, 2014) — Tough trade enforcement is the only sure way to save U.S. manufacturing for current workers and future generations, United Steelworkers International (USW) President Leo Gerard told a Senate Finance Committee hearing June 25.

“I’m sorry to say that by necessity I’ve become one of the country’s leading experts on trade enforcement,” Mr. Gerard said in written testimony to the committee.

“USW members and non-union workers alike know firsthand the pain inflicted by foreign predatory, protectionist and unfair trade practices,” he said. “In industry after industry, they have seen other nations target the U.S. market to fuel their own economic policies, to create jobs for their people and capture the dollars of our consumers.”

Since 2000, the USW has led or supported dozens of trade cases including steel, tires, auto parts, paper, green technology, currency manipulation and the rights of Chinese workers, Mr. Gerard said.

“Our government should be taking more of the lead,” he said. “While we appreciate what they are doing, it is far from sufficient.

“And let’s recognize that some of the most successful efforts, like the Section 421 case on tires, were because the USW initially brought the case. We’d vastly prefer that government do its job so our members can do their jobs.”

The Obama administration levied three years’ worth of elevated tariffs on Chinese-made passenger and light truck tires in September 2009, based on the USW’s petition under Section 421 of the Trade Act.

The union is now petitioning the International Trade Commission (ITC) for antidumping and countervailing duties against Chinese passenger and light truck tires under Sections 701 and 731 of the Trade Act.

To protect U.S. manufacturing, Mr. Gerard said at the hearing, the government should implement a coordinated plan that should include:

• Negotiation of trade agreements that advance the U.S.’s interests;

• Aggressive implementation of those agreements;

• Compliance monitoring; and

• Enforcement of provisions when trading partners violate the rules.

Mr. Gerard was one of several industry and union representatives asked to testify before the committee on the subject of trade enforcement at the June 24 hearing.

The ITC is scheduled to make its preliminary determination by July 18 on whether to continue the investigation. It must report its findings to the Commerce Department by July 25.

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