English to try again on trade-reform act



By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
WHEATLAND, Pa. -- U.S. Rep. Phil English intends this week to introduce to Congress legislation similar to a trade-reform measure he has unsuccessfully proposed in his last two terms.
English, an Erie Republican representing the 3rd Congressional District which includes most of Mercer County, said he's hoping the change in leadership -- with the Democratic Party now in control -- will make Congress more open to his trade reforms.
His proposed Trade Law Reform Act of 2007 would reform current laws that require that U.S. manufacturers meet higher standards, as well as create a commission to review World Trade Organization decisions against the United States. The commission also would advise Congress if the WTO exceeded its authority in making a decision.
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"My initiative streamlines the process for American companies seeking relief against import surges, illegal imports and other crippling circumstances stemming from unfair trade," English said in prepared remarks at a press conference Monday at Wheatland Tube, a company that has been troubled by foreign imports in the past.
Just last year the company idled its pipe-making operations at its Sharon plant, laying off about 125 workers because of increased imports from China.
Timothy Feeney, Wheatland's general manager, said the company has tried to be proactive and develop new products, but competing with foreign countries can be difficult.
Mike Munger, president of USW Local 1660, said he's hoping English is successful introducing his new bill, which would help limit imports.
"I fear it might be too late. We continually try to compete with them, but they can undercut our prices," Munger said.
English said there hasn't been any substantive change to the nation's foreign trade laws in the past 30 years.
"Congress took baby steps. We closed one of the loopholes. I'm hopeful the new Congress and new majority will take up this issue," he said.
English said he is optimistic there will be support on both sides of the political aisle to go forward with this legislation.
"Adoption of this bill is critical if we are going to maintain a strong and vibrant economy in the United States," English said.
cioffi@vindy.com

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