- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003


The Bush administration, accusing China of a host of trade violations, announced yesterday the creation of an Unfair Trade Practices Team inside the Commerce Department to address trade barriers that are costing American jobs.

In addition to the new team, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans said he was creating two new posts in his department: an assistant secretary for trade promotion and an assistant secretary for manufacturing who will oversee a new Office of Industry Analysis, which will track the impact of government regulations on American businesses.

All the moves are part of an effort by the administration to show concern for the steady erosion in the manufacturing sector, which has suffered 37 consecutive months of job losses since March 2001. Since July 2000, manufacturing companies have shed 2.7 million jobs.

Mr. Evans also announced during his speech yesterday to the Economic Club of Detroit that he will travel to China later this year to take up various complaints with the Chinese government.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, said the administration is late in addressing the issue. China has dislodged Japan as the country having the biggest trade gap with the United States.

“The Bush administration’s attention to China’s trade abuses is 2.5 million jobs late. We’ve been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs for the last 2 years,” said Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat. “They’re talking a good game, but all it amounts to is a public relations offensive.”

Mr. Evans’ announcements followed a series of 20 roundtable discussions his agency has held around the country examining problems in manufacturing. During those meetings, “no country raised more attention as a source of concern than China,” Mr. Evans said.

“Manufacturers complained about rampant piracy of intellectual property, forced transfer of technology from firms launching joint ventures in China, trade barriers and capital markets that are largely insulated from free-market pressures,” Mr. Evans said.

He gave as one example the experience of the manufacturer of Wrigley chewing gum, which has a 70 percent share of the Chinese market. Mr. Evans said that a Wrigley official told him the Chinese were violating the company’s copyrights by selling pirated gum in Guangzhou and had even gone as far as to copy the designs of the Wrigley distribution trucks and were now driving the same routes.

“That’s a pretty ugly story,” said Mr. Evans, who accused China of failing to live up to commitments it made in December 2001 when it joined the World Trade Organization. China said at the time it would open up its distribution systems to foreign suppliers and allow foreign, nonbank companies to offer auto loans to consumers in China.

Mr. Evans pledged that the administration would “aggressively target unfair trade practices wherever they occur. American manufacturers can compete against any country’s white collars and blue collars, but we will not submit to competing against another country’s choke collars.”

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