Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced today that he is cosponsoring the Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 to strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of U.S. rights under international and domestic trade rules. This legislation is critical to ensuring that U.S. workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers can compete fairly and successfully in a global marketplace.
“We need tougher enforcement of trade rules because Michigan companies and workers deserve to compete on a level playing field,” said Senator Peters. “When other countries cheat to gain illegal trade advantages against the United States, it gets harder for middle class families to make ends meet, and our economy suffers. I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that will bolster our ability to challenge unfair trade practices and protect American workers, and I want to applaud Senator Debbie Stabenow for her leadership on this critical issue.”
The U.S. Trade Representative releases an annual report highlighting significant foreign trade barriers and the impact those barriers have on U.S. exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment by U.S. persons, and protection of intellectual property rights. The Trade Enforcement Act was introduced by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Co-chairs of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, to help address these concerns and crack down on illegal trade barriers.
The Trade Enforcement Act will:
-Make permanent the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which was created in 2012 to improve the effectiveness of U.S. challenges to unfair trade practices by coordinating the resources and enforcement powers of federal agencies.
-Establish a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to lead the ITEC and oversee compliance with U.S. trade agreements. This new position would be required to report to Congress annually on enforcement actions taken by the ITEC.
-Establish a Chief Manufacturing Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative who will be responsible for protecting the interests of domestic manufacturers in trade negotiations. The manufacturing industry has been particularly impacted by unfair trade practices in recent years, and this negotiator would work to ensure that future trade agreements benefit U.S. manufacturing interests.
The ITEC has already been critical in helping the U.S. win major trade enforcement cases. In June 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that China broke WTO rules by imposing extra duties on American cars and SUVs. It is estimated that $5.1 billion of U.S. auto exports were covered by those duties. In August, a WTO panel found in favor of the U.S. in a dispute challenging Argentina’s widespread restriction on importing U.S. goods. This measure could potentially affect billions of dollars in exporting energy products, electronics and machinery, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, motor vehicles and vehicle parts.
Senator Peters has been a strong, consistent leader in the fight to fully fund the ITEC. Peters offered a floor amendment in 2012 to fully fund the ITEC that gained bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. He has also led a letter calling for full funding every year since the White House created the ITEC through executive order in 2012. Peters joined with four other Senators this month to urge the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to provide full funding at $15 million for the next fiscal year.
(Information Courtesy of Peters Communications)