Wyden, Snowe and others call for investigation of Chinese paper industry subsidies
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
More than 100 lawmakers on Wednesday urged the Obama administration to investigate Chinese subsidies to its paper industry that they say give China's companies an artificial boost over their U.S. competitors.
The damage from the subsidies to U.S. manufacturing are "significant" and "market-distorting," the lawmakers wrote in a letter, citing a study by the Economic Policy Institute that shows that paper production in China has tripled in the past decade even as the global market remains saturated.
"American workers are fed up with foreign subsidies and they need to know that the U.S. government is on their side" Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a news statement. "The investigation we are calling for is the first step toward achieving economic justice for our paper producers."
Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) added that the subsidies "destabilize components of the global trading system. ... It is imperative that our government act swiftly not only to enforce current trade laws but also to implement new policies to guarantee our paper producers can fully compete in a fair, global market."
Since he took office, President Obama has resisted bipartisan calls to take a tougher stance against China on issues related to trade and currency manipulation. The administration's relationship with China is delicate because it needs its help to push through critical global environmental goals and economic initiatives and in dealing with North Korea and Iran.
But in recent months as the economic recovery seems to have slowed, there have been signals that the administration will step up pressure on China.
On July 15, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis on said the United States continues to have "serious" concerns about China's trade policies. He said the U.S. is prepared to file enforcement actions if China does not follow through on commitments it made when it joined the World Trade Organization a decade ago.
The U.S. "will not negotiate indefinitely where U.S. rights are concerned," Marantis said.
Ariana Eunjung Cha
July 28, 2010; 2:43 PM ET
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