USW Applauds Administration Trade Actions

Requesting Consultations with China on Export Restraints on Rare Earth Minerals, Other Products; Signing Legislation to Ensure that Government Can Apply Countervailing Duties to Subsidized Chinese Products

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–March 13, 2012.  This statement was released today by United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard:

“President Obama and Ambassador Kirk are to be applauded for calling China on the carpet for its illegal export restraints on rare earth minerals and other products.  Today’s effort initiates action on a formal trade complaint filed by the USW.  The members of the USW have worked closely with the Administration to address China’s wide ranging export restraints on various raw materials and its blatant disregard of that country’s World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.

“Chinese export restraints have a devastating impact on production and jobs here in the United States by limiting or raising the cost of these materials to our companies which use them to make products ranging from lighting to auto parts to wind energy production equipment to military goods and countless other products. Many firms faced with restricted access to these key raw materials have either begun to contract with producers in China or have moved their own operations there.

“China has used export restraints as a development strategy to advantage their companies and undermine their competitors.  China restricts the export of hundreds of products.  Several weeks ago, the United States was handed a decisive victory by the WTO on a case brought for similar restraints utilized by China.  Rather than accept the WTO’s decision, China continues its illegal, predatory and protectionist export restraints and has expanded the number of products it applies export restraints on in the past year.

“This action supports the request made in 2010 by the USW in our comprehensive Section 301 trade petition regarding alternative and renewable energy products.  Among the complaints raised by the USW, our case dealt with China’s restraints on rare earths and tungsten products.   Now that the WTO has ruled against China’s policies on other products, there can be no question as to the illegality of China’s restraints on rare earths and tungsten as raised in our complaint. We support the Administration’s decision to demand that China dismantle its practices in this critical area.

“There has already been significant damage globally to downstream users of these key raw materials from China’s comprehensive and illegal scheme to restrict access to various raw materials.  We know that trading partners such as the European Union and Japan and others are deeply concerned about China spreading this form of protectionism and trade and investment distorting behavior.  It is time for a comprehensive solution to these practices.  And, it’s high time that our trading partners join in the effort to ensure that China abides by its WTO commitments.  Hopefully, today’s request will lead to an early end to these practices by the Chinese.

“Today’s action is key. But more remains to be done in this critical area. In January we issued a call to action on auto parts where, among other policies, we highlighted the problem of export restraints.  Many of the items covered by other Chinese export restraints are used in a wide range of auto parts.  We hope the United States and its trading partners will press China to stop its practices on all products important to U.S. manufacturing.  American workers deserve nothing less.

“The Steelworkers also thank the President for signing into law legislation ensuring that the Administration can apply countervailing duties to Chinese products that are illegally subsidized and which injure U.S. producers and workers.   The legislation is vital to ensuring that the Administration has the necessary tools to respond to China, and other non-market economies which subsidize their producers and gain an advantage in world markets.   This President has made clear that he will aggressively enforce our nation’s trade laws, and today he signaled that he also intends to make sure that he has the tools necessary to do just that.”

The USW represents about 850,000 working men and women in the United States and Canada in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glass making to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber and other manufacturing environments, to the public sector, service and health care industries. For more information, go to