Democrats Urge Bush To Break Down Trade Barriers

The top leadership of the US House of Representatives has urged president Bush to take immediate
action to address overseas trade barriers standing in the way of a wide range of US exports
including textiles and apparel. A sharply worded letter signed by all 10 leaders of the Democrats
in the House says:”It is not enough simply to sign a trade agreement and move on to negotiating the
next one. To restore credibility to the trading system, agreements have to be enforced.”

The letter was a response to release of the annual National Trade Estimates report on trade
barriers to US exports of goods and services, investments and intellectual property rights. The
letter says the US Trade Representative (UStr) has carefully documented problems, but has taken no
action to redress or eliminate them.

Each year the report documents a variety of tariff and non-tariff barriers used by other
countries to protect their markets. Those where textiles and apparel are affected include China,
India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan among others.

“After the loss of almost 3 million manufacturing jobs since January 2001, and the growing
problem of outsourcing the services sector, it is time to stop taking inventory and time to start
producing results for American workers, farmers and businesses,” the letter says. “In the three
years that the Bush administration has been in office, the USTR has brought an average of fewer
that three cases per year to the World Trade Organization (WTO), while the Clinton Administration
brought approximately 10 cases per year.”

The letter comes down hard on China, charging that its trading rights and distribution rights
effectively bar imports that compete with Chinese goods, and it urges the administration to take
immediate action under the WTO’s dispute system to ensure that China complies with its WTO
commitments. The Democratic leadership also singles out India because of its $9 billion textile and
apparel trade surplus with the United States. They charge that India is one of the most protected
markets in the world, that Indias barriers to textile trade have been identified for three years
running, and that no action has been taken.

The congressional leaders said they plan to introduce legislation to revive a key tool of the
US law used in the past that would require the UStr to prioritize dealing with overseas trade

April 2004