Washington, DC – Six U.S. Senators introduced legislation yesterday to require disclosure of foreign subsidies that hurt U.S. manufacturing and other jobs. The bill is offered by Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Mike Enzi (WY), Chuck Schumer (NY), John Barrasso (WY), Carl Levin (MI) and Olympia Snowe (ME).
The bill follows a similar amendment that was offered, but not acted on by the Senate, during debate over Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation. Following the introduction of that amendment, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) identified nearly 200 subsidy programs that China had failed to disclose to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“It is abundantly clear that China has been tilting the playing field with undisclosed subsidies. Trade must be fair as well as free, and foreign nations that back their companies with government subsidies are putting American workers and businesses at a serious disadvantage. Demanding disclosure of these subsidies is an absolutely necessary step so that we can take action to level the playing field for American workers and businesses,” said Merkley.
“American industries can compete as long as the decks are not stacked against them,” said Enzi. “No country should be allowed to get around its obligations. If some are cheating, the trade community needs to know who they are.”
“USTR must continue to engage China on its failure to comply with WTO subsidy notification obligations and aggressively pursue every opportunity to bring China into compliance with global trade rules,” said Schumer. “I support Senator Merkley’s counter-notification bill which would help close the loophole on failures to notify.”
“It’s time we shine the light on countries who continue to ignore the rules with unfair, undisclosed subsidies,” said Barrasso. “Our legislation will build on U.S. Trade Representative Kirk’s recent efforts to counter-notify the WTO of undisclosed Chinese and Indian subsidy programs. By working with the WTO to enforce the rules, the USTR will ensure that U.S. workers and businesses are on an even playing field in the global marketplace.”
“American working families cannot afford for Congress to stand idle while other countries fail to play by the rules for reporting that we all agreed to when joining the WTO,” Levin said. “Congress should swiftly pass this bill and shine the light on subsidies that cost American jobs and level the trade playing field.”
“American job creators cannot afford to compete against known violators of international trade laws and violators must be called to account,” said Senator Snowe. “Manufacturers and workers in trade-sensitive industries, including Maine’s paper production industry, have already been harmed by enduring, unfair trade practices like those exhibited by China. This common-sense legislation will protect American jobs and competitiveness by ensuring the U.S. Trade Representative takes action against nations unfairly subsidizing exports. It is vital that we have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to such inequitable policies.”
The legislation would require the U.S. Trade Representative to take action if any member of the WTO is failing to disclose subsidies. If a major trading partner repeatedly fails to disclose their subsidies, or if significant non-disclosed subsidies are found, the U.S. Trade Representative would then be required to notify the WTO regarding those foreign subsidies. By making sure the United States takes appropriate action under WTO procedures, the amendment helps ensure that such subsidies are out in the open, and takes the first step toward enforcing basic obligations of WTO member countries.