President Obama announced Tuesday the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit, singling out China as a country that has had an unfair advantage over American competitors and requires more scrutiny. “I will not stand by when our competitors don’t play by the rules,” the president said in his State of the Union address.
The unit is charged with investigating unfair trade practices in countries like China. Senior administration officials said the president acted because there is a backlog of cases involving China but not enough lawyers or investigators to pursue them. Obama claimed his administration has “brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration – and it’s made a difference.” He cited the case of tires, contending that “over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires."
But he said there are many more areas to pursue. “It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized,” he said. He said that with the new unit “there will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders.”
Saying he would "go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products," Obama also urged Congress to work with him in also monitoring newer markets such as Russia.
“Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win,” he said.