Pressure Mounting on Obama to Crack Down on Imported Chinese Auto Parts

A number of union groups and Midwestern lawmakers are lobbying President Obama to clamp down on auto parts imported from China.  Referring to unfair trade practices begin engaged in by Beijing, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) urged the president to “stand up to the bully on the block” and curtail the importation of illegally subsidized auto parts which she claims threaten the jobs of thousands of auto workers.

At a press conference held in Washington D.C. earlier today, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing Scott Paul said he advocates legal action to stem the flow of Chinese auto parts into the U.S.  “I think all of us will be urging the administration to initiate a case or multiple cases,” said Paul.

The press conference comes just one week after President Obama announced that his administration was launching a new initiative aimed at cracking down on unfair trade practices that benefit China and a number of other countries.

Last month, China ratcheted up the trade battle by imposing higher duties on a number of large sedans and SUVs it imports from the U.S. To many, the move was seen as retaliation against the U.S. for restricting the import of Chinese goods including poultry and automobile tires.

The Obama administration is also considering applying anti-dumping duties on Chinese-made wind energy towers and solar panels.

According to Paul, the importation of Chinese-subsidized auto parts has increased by nearly 900 percent since 2001. “This begs for a trade action,” he said.  Those actions, he said, could include investigations by the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Commerce Department into whether or not China is in violation of those organizations’ fair trade policies.

According to another source close to the matter, the importation of subsidized Chinese auto parts has led to the loss of 400,000 auto industry jobs in the U.S. since 2000. Another 1.6 million auto industry jobs are allegedly at risk as a result of Beijing’s unfair trade practices.

Republican presidential candidates have made the U.S. – China trade disparity a political football in recent months, portraying the Obama administration as weak and ineffectual,  and promising to take a harder line with Beijing.

Trade relations will undoubtedly be on the agenda when President Obama hosts China’s Vice President Xi Jinping during his visit to the White House on February 14.

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