On the Roots of Marriage

Andy Leonatt
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Andy Leonatt
Feb. 12, 2014, 12:20 p.m.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion re­ceived praise from Con­gress on Wed­nes­day for fil­ing two cases against China in the World Trade Or­gan­iz­a­tion, as Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Geithner pre­pares to take heat from two com­mit­tees today over ac­tions on Chinese cur­rency.

The U.S. Trade Rep­res­ent­at­ive’s of­fice an­nounced Wed­nes­day it was seek­ing dis­pute set­tle­ment con­sulta­tion, the pre­curs­or to the WTO form­ing a dis­pute set­tle­ment pan­el, with China over an­ti­dump­ing and coun­ter­vail­ing du­ties on U.S. ex­ports of grain-ori­ented flat-rolled elec­tric­al steel and dis­crim­in­a­tion against U.S. sup­pli­ers of elec­tron­ic pay­ment ser­vices.

“We are con­cerned that China is break­ing its trade com­mit­ments to the United States and oth­er WTO part­ners, both by fa­vor­ing its one state-owned fin­an­cial ser­vices firm to the ex­clu­sion of Amer­ic­an cred­it and deb­it card com­pan­ies and by ma­nip­u­lat­ing trade-rem­edy in­vest­ig­a­tions to un­fairly re­strict ex­ports of Amer­ic­an steel,” Trade Rep­res­ent­at­ive Kirk said in a state­ment.

The move drew bi­par­tis­an praise from con­gres­sion­al trade lead­ers who have been highly crit­ic­al of the ad­min­is­tra­tion de­clin­ing to la­bel China a cur­rency ma­nip­u­lat­or. Geithner will ap­pear be­fore the Sen­ate Bank­ing and House Ways and Means com­mit­tees today on the sub­ject.

“We can’t stand by while China ab­uses its … trade laws for pro­tec­tion­ist pur­poses,” said Sen­ate Fin­ance rank­ing mem­ber Chuck Grass­ley. “The ad­min­is­tra­tion should go one step fur­ther and bring a case against China’s un­fair cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion at the WTO.”

Sen­ate Fin­ance Chair­man Max Baucus said the com­plaints are “crit­ic­al steps for­ward in our ef­fort to en­force our mar­ket ac­cess rights in China.”

The first com­plaint al­leges China un­fairly im­posed du­ties on the spe­cial­ized steel product used in the man­u­fac­tur­ing of trans­formers and re­act­ors. A Chinese in­vest­ig­a­tion found the United States dumped the products in Chinese mar­kets at less than fair mar­ket value, which the US­TR’s of­fice al­leges was a biased in­vest­ig­a­tion that lacked evid­ence.

The second com­plaint al­leges the People’s Bank of China al­lowed the do­mest­ic com­pany China Uni­on Pay to have what Kirk termed “a mono­poly over most cred­it and deb­it card trans­ac­tions,” a mar­ket it had com­mit­ted to open­ing four years ago.

Chinese trade has be­come a part of the do­mest­ic man­u­fac­tur­ing agenda House Demo­crats are pro­mot­ing as part of an ef­fort to high­light job cre­ation bills.

“The Ad­min­is­tra­tion must con­tin­ue to re­double its ef­fort to ad­dress the range of Chinese prac­tices which dis­ad­vant­age and harm U.S. work­ers, farm­ers and busi­nesses, that dis­tort trade and in­vest­ment flows, and which ul­ti­mately sup­press U.S. growth and job cre­ation,” Ways and Means Chair­man Sander Lev­in said in a state­ment.

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