US Democrats urge Bush bring more trade cases at WTO
Monday, 31 March 2008

Democratic lawmakers urged President George W. Bush yesterday to file new trade complaints against China, the European Union, Japan, Canada, Mexico and others at the World Trade Organization, reports Reuters.

“Unfortunately, during the last seven years, this administration has mismanaged America’s trade policy. We urge you to take important steps to remedy this situation,” House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel and other panel members said in a letter to Bush. The lawmakers said the U.S.

Trade Representative should begin preparing WTO cases against China and Japan for “currency manipulation” they said undercuts U.S. exports. They also called for action against Chinese steel subsidies and Japanese regulatory and other non-tariff barriers that block imports of U.S. autos and auto parts.

The list also included a possible case against the European Union for blocking imports of high-tech goods such as digital signal converters for analog TVs. Trade officials have already said they are considering action on that.

The lawmakers also proposed action against Mexico, Canada and France for failing to protect U.S. intellectual property rights and said Washington should insist Russia make much more progress in that area before being allowed to join the WTO.

The letter came days before the U.S. Trade Representative’s office releases its annual report on foreign trade barriers which usually runs several hundred pages. In what has also become an annual exercise, Democrats complained the administration has not insisted that other countries live up to their international trade obligations.

They said the Bush administration brought fewer than three WTO cases a year in its seven years in office compared to 11 a year from 1995 to 2001.

One result, they said, was the rise in the U.S. trade deficit to $711.6 billion last year from $375.4 billion in 2000, former President Bill Clinton’s last year in office. Administration trade officials say they have filed cases at the WTO when other, quicker efforts to resolve disputes fail.

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