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USW says China trade policies could derail Obamas green industries

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The United Steelworkers (USW) union has filed a comprehensive trade case under Section 301 of the trade law identifying a broad array of Chinese policies and practices which it says threatens the future of America’s alternative and renewable energy sector.

According to a statement released on Thursday, the case alleges that China has utilized hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies, performance requirements, preferential practices and other trade-illegal activities to advance its domination of the sector.

The USW filed the petition with the office of United States Trade Representative. The 5,800-page submission identifies five major areas of protectionist and predatory practices utilized by the Chinese to develop their green sector at the expense of production and job creation here in the U.S., the USW said. Under the law, the Obama Administration has 45 days from the date of filing to determine whether to accept the petition for further action. This will put the Administration’s decision date on or before Oct. 24.

“Green jobs are key to our future,” USW International President Leo Gerard said. “Right now, China is taking every possible step—many of them illegal under international trade laws—to ensure that it will control that sector. America can’t afford to cede more of its manufacturing base to China. It’s a national priority to reduce our dependence on foreign energy supplies. But if all we do is exchange our dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on Chinese alternative and renewable energy production equipment, we will have traded away our nation’s energy, economic and job security.”

The USW noted “that the Obama Administration and Congress have spent considerable time and effort on promoting green jobs as a vital component of a long-term growth strategy. From climate change legislation to training programs, there has been an emphasis on clean and green technologies. But if China’s illegal actions are left unchecked, the promise of green jobs will not come to fruition.”

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America with 850,000 workers involved in virtually every facet of production associated with alternative and renewable energy equipment, from steel to wind turbine blade-making.

“America is losing its leadership of this sector in large part because of China’s plans to control this industry no matter what,” USW Vice President Tom Conway said. “They’re breaking every rule in the book.”

Last year, America discovered that its tax dollars were to be used to support a wind energy project largely based on Chinese-produced equipment, such as wind turbines. “With high unemployment, less than optimal growth, and rising budget deficits, America can’t afford to let China cheat any longer,” Conway said.

“This case draws a line in the sand,” Gerard added. “The petition presents comprehensive facts and data regarding China’s illegal acts under international trade rules. We can’t rely on unending diplomatic niceties and non-productive photo opportunities masquerading as serious talks. We’re hemorrhaging jobs, seeing our bilateral trade deficit skyrocket and jeopardizing our future.”

During the next 45 days, the USW plans to continue discussions with the Administration over the contents of the petition. At the same time, the USW will seek to enlist the support of elected officials and concerned citizens to urge the Administration to accept the case, take remedial action, and help ensure a brighter future.

“Our message will be quite clear,” Gerard said. “Enough is enough. It’s time to fight for our future.”

Because of the size of the petition, an executive summary of the case is available at http://listserv.steelworkers.org/t/176556/1206326/137830/0

For his part, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, released this statement on the USW’s Section 301 filing. “It is widely known that China employs a range of unfair trade practices that conflict with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization and undermine our domestic market,” Visclosky said. “I will continue to fight unfair Chinese trade practices to ensure that American workers are able to compete on a level playing field. I urge the Office of the United States Trade Representative to act on this petition and move forward with the United Steelworkers’ case.”

 

 

Posted 9/13/2010

 

 

 

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