- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

The Bush administration yesterday accused 63 trading partners, including China and the European Union, of erecting unfair barriers to American exports.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab released the new report, which the administration is required to prepare as a way of informing Congress of its priorities in trying to tear down harmful trade barriers.

“A significant amount of work remains to knock down trade barriers and ensure that American exporters have new economic opportunities across the globe,” Mrs. Schwab said. “The report demonstrates that the administration continues to use all enforcement tools at its disposal to ensure fair treatment in the global marketplace for U.S. workers and consumers.”

However, critics contend the administration has failed to forcefully pursue unfair trade barriers and they say this inaction has contributed to America’s soaring trade deficits, which last year hit a high of $765.3 billion, the fifth consecutive record. The deficit with China totaled $232.5 billion, the highest ever recorded with a single country.

In discussing China, the administration said that unless the country does more to crack down on the theft of U.S. copyrighted products such as movies, music and computer software, the administration would consider filing a case against China before the World Trade Organization.

“If the issues are not resolved; all options are on the table,” Warren Maruyama, general counsel for the trade office, said in a briefing with reporters. However, he refused to set any timetable on when such a case might be filed.

In addition to copyright piracy, the report criticized China for using government subsidies to give its companies unfair advantages over American companies.

The administration announced Friday that it was imposing penalty tariffs on Chinese imports of coated high-gloss paper, reversing 23 years of precedent in U.S. trade cases by imposing the penalties on a non-market economy such as China.

Other U.S. industries from steel to furniture are expected to file their own petitions accusing China of providing improper government subsidies now that a ruling has been issued in the paper case.

The 2007 National Trade Estimate report covered 63 major trading partners from Angola to Vietnam. It has been prepared annually for more than two decades under legislation that requires the administration to give an accounting of the trade barriers that are most harmful to American businesses and farmers.

In addition to China, the report spent time discussing the need for the European Union to eliminate trade-distorting subsidies provided to European airplane giant Airbus. The United States and the EU have filed opposing cases on the issue of airplane subsidies with the WTO.

The report also discussed a WTO case the administration has filed against India, contending that country is imposing WTO-illegal tariffs on U.S. wines and distilled spirits sold there.

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