Levin, McDermott Statements on New Interagency Trade Enforcement Unit

Feb 28, 2012
WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA) today made the following statements after President Obama signed an executive order creating the Interagency Trade Enforcement Unit:
LEVIN:“The global marketplace will only work if we ensure that the rules of competition are enforced.  Our workers should not face a wild west of rampant unfair trade practices and our businesses should not be left to stand up for themselves without any government support.  A comprehensive, government-wide structure is long overdue, and we must be vigilant in its implementation. Our imbalanced and unsustainable relationship with China is without question at present a defining trade issue. China presents a unique and formidable enforcement challenge, and this initiative is a major step towards developing a new model to address that challenge. China’s laws are not transparent. Its provincial and municipal governments frequently adopt WTO-inconsistent measures, sometimes in conflict with the central government’s rhetoric. The current trade enforcement structure – developed decades before China joined the multilateral trading system -- did not account for any of that.  The President understands that we need a new enforcement structure for this new era.”
MCDERMOTT:“Last year, I and many of my Democratic colleagues called for the development of ‘a comprehensive and robust strategy to help rebalance our trading relationship with China.’  The President is answering that call. This Administration has already filed almost twice as many trade cases against China as the last Administration did.  But the President’s action today is a sea change in the way the United States enforces the rules. This action will help to level the playing field for American workers, businesses, and farmers.  I also call upon my Republican colleagues to provide the Administration with the funding it needs to implement this important new initiative.” 
Committee Ranking Member Levin and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member McDermott have long supported a greater focus on the enforcement of existing trade rules.  In a letter to President Bush in 2007, they and other Ways and Means Democrats wrote:  “Too often in the past, this Administration has devoted its resources to negotiating new rules – at the expense of ensuring that our trading partners play by the rules already in place.”   And, at the beginning of the Obama Administration, they called for the development and implementation of a “comprehensive strategy” that identifies foreign country practices; allocates additional resources to investigating and eliminating other countries’ barriers; and improves interagency and international coordination on enforcement initiatives. Last year, they and 35 other House Democrats wrote to the Appropriations Committee, requesting additional funding to expand USTR’s efforts to investigate China’s policies and to implement “a comprehensive and robust strategy to help rebalance our trading relationship with China. (House Republicans were unwilling to sign the letter, as it called for additional government funding.)
Similarly, in May 2010, James McGregor, the former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China wrote in the Washington Post:  “The U.S. government and the business community need to rethink our China strategy and retool our trade bureaucracy to face the tangled web of emerging Chinese policies.  … Facing off against [China’s trade-distorting practices] are 30 lawyers in the U.S. trade representative’s office of general counsel – only one of whom can read Chinese.”