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Textile News
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Democratic Leaders Of Ways And Means Introduce Trade Bill

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The Democratic leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee have introduced legislation designed to promote an effective US trade agenda and ensure that US trading partners abide by the rules of fair trade.

With the introduction of the far-reaching Trade Enforcement Act of 2008, Committee Chairman Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin, D-Mich., gave a powerful push behind legislation designed to address a number of trade problems including a huge trade deficit and loss of manufacturing jobs.

"The American public is skeptical about US trade policy in part because the public does not believe that our trading partners are playing by the same rules as the United States," Rangel said. "Our trading partners need to open their markets to US exporters. They need to stop providing trade-distorting subsidies and to stop dumping their products in our market. They need to protect intellectual property rights, and they need to ensure that their exports to the United States are safe."

Levin added: "We need to start enforcing the agreements that have been reached rather than passively accepting their breach. We need to a more assertive approach to the enforcement of our international agreements and trade laws."

Among other things, the bill would:

  • create a director of intellectual property rights(IPR) enforcement and an enforcement advisory committee to address IPR issues;
  • improve import safety by creating a voluntary government/private-sector import safety program to identify problems that pose a threat to consumer safety, and create new sanctions for repeated non-compliance with US health and safety laws;
  • increase staffing and add better training for expanded customs and immigration enforcement;
  • require the US Trade Representative (USTR) to identify and annually report on foreign countries that maintain trade barriers, and take action to eliminate them;
  • create an office of congressional trade enforcer to investigate barriers to US exports and call on the USTR to file cases;
  • elevate the USTR’s general council to ambassador rank to give him/her more clout in dealing with foreign nations; and
  • continue and enhance the use of US trade remedies such as countervailing duties to combat unfairly subsidized and injurious imports from non-market economies such as China.

July 22, 2008