March 28, 2014
Leo W. Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers (USW), has issued a statement in response to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) decision reaffirming the right of the U.S. to use countervailing duty law against China, while questioning the methodology used in determining margins in those cases.
"Today's decision is a mixed result. On the one hand, it's a big win in allowing the U.S. to use trade laws to combat Chinese subsidies. On the other hand, the WTO questioned the methodology used by the Department of Commerce in investigations before the change in U.S. law back in 2012. Its approach is inconsistent with our rights and the prior legal approach of our WTO trade partners, as well as prior WTO decisions.
"China aggressively uses subsidies to promote its export-led growth approach that has had a devastating impact on U.S. producers and workers. Chinese industries benefit from untold billions of dollars in subsidies that allow them to undercut the prices producers here have to charge just to cover costs. In fact, China announced that it would provide $1.5 trillion to support the goals of its 12th Five-Year Plan and the strategic sectors and industries it identified as national champions.
"The WTO agreed with the Administration and Congress that actions by our government to clarify that countervailing duty laws apply to a non-market economy like China are perfectly legal. This was a critical decision. Failure on this matter would have crippled U.S. trade law enforcement.
"Unfortunately, the WTO then ignored the fact that the U.S. changed its law in response to an earlier WTO decision and ruled against prior U.S. actions. The U.S. did what was required. The panel's decision today on this issue is overreaching and imposes obligations on the U.S. never agreed to at the negotiating table. It follows other overreaching decisions of the WTO and must be corrected.
"U.S. trade laws are vital to the fight against unfair trade and the resulting loss of American jobs. Filing a trade case is not the goal; living by the rules is. Hopefully, following yesterday's decision on its rare-earth export prohibitions, China will comply with its WTO commitments. If not, we've got to use our trade laws to level the playing field and respond to their predatory and protectionist practices."
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in such industries as metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, and the service and public sectors.