Senator Stabenow introduces her Trade Enforcement Act

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Co-chairs of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, today introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure American businesses and workers can compete fairly in a global marketplace. The Act will toughen trade enforcement by making the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center a permanent center responsible for coordinating the enforcement powers of multiple federal agencies, and creating a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer to lead the Center. The Act will also create a Chief Manufacturing Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative to protect the interests of American manufacturers in trade negotiations. For years, Sens. Stabenow and Graham have championed policies that crack down on unfair trade practices, which harm the middle class and take away good-paying jobs. The introduction of their Trade Enforcement Act follows the U.S. Trade Representative's release of an annual report that highlights all of the ways countries are cheating to gain an unfair trade advantage.

"Every time another country breaks the rules, manufacturing jobs at home take a hit," said Senator Stabenow. "The White House put out a 384-page report listing all of the illegal trade barriers that other countries use to keep American products out. This bill will help crack down on countries that are breaking the rules, which will ensure our businesses and workers can fairly compete."

"I strongly support foreign trade and the millions of jobs associated with our export economy," said Senator Graham. "But when others break the rules, they should be held accountable. Through the years, America's manufacturing economy has been hurt by illegal trade barriers and shady practices. Americans welcome competition. I have no doubt that as unfair trade practices are eliminated and barriers are removed, America will continue to compete and have even more success in the international marketplace."

The Trade Enforcement Act will make permanent the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, which was created in 2012 to improve the effectiveness of U.S. challenges to unfair trade practices by coordinating the resources of various federal agencies. The Center has already been critical in helping the U.S. win major trade enforcement cases. Just this past June, the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that China broke WTO rules by imposing extra duties on American cars and SUVs. It was 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.

In addition, the Trade Enforcement Act will establish a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer to lead the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center and create a Chief Manufacturing Negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative who will be responsible for protecting the interests of domestic manufacturers in trade negotiations.