- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In a move that could impact the presidential campaign, the Obama administration leveled a new trade complaint against China Wednesday at the World Trade Organization, accusing Beijing of failing to eliminate export duties on nine raw materials.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the export duties “provide an unfair competitive advantage” to China at the expense of American workers and manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive, electronics and chemicals sectors.

“When China joined the WTO, China agreed to eliminate its export duties on these products, but it has failed to follow through on this commitment,” Mr. Froman said in a statement.

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Later Wednesday, Vice President Joseph R. Biden will give a speech at the port of San Diego, California, highlighting the trade enforcement action.

“It all comes down to fair competition — a notion that is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” Mr. Biden will say remarks prepared for delivery. “And one of the most important ways we have done that is by enforcing our trade laws — more aggressively than any previous administration in history.”

The latest action could provide political cover for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whose position on trade has been under attack by Democrats and Republicans. Her Republican rival Donald Trump has accused the administration and Mrs. Clinton of being too soft on China on trade issues.

Mr. Froman said the new complaint against China “is part of the administration’s continuing work to level playing field for American workers and manufacturers in order to grow our economy and support quality jobs here at home.”

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said U.S. manufacturers “strongly support” the administration’s move.

“This is an important step forward that builds on two prior successful cases the administration pursued that eliminated China’s similar restrictions on rare earths and other raw materials to the benefit of manufacturers across many sectors,” Mr. Timmons said. “Bringing this case is important to ensure that China is held accountable to the commitments it made in joining the WTO to eliminate trade-distorting measures that undercut fair competition.”

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