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Lawmakers’ bill aims to help manufacturers



Published: Tue, May 6, 2008 @ 12:26 a.m.

The bill would give manufacturers an additional shot at getting relief.

STAFF REPORT

Two congressmen, a Republican and a Democrat, are sponsoring a bill to help manufacturers who are hurt by trade with China.

U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-4th, and U.S. Rep. Phil English, R-3rd, say they want to help businesses being jeopardized by Chinese imports.

The Supporting America’s Manufacturers Act would establish congressional review of the president’s decisions on whether to provide temporary relief in the form of import duties or quotas to American companies facing disruptions caused by Chinese imports.

American manufacturers are able to file petitions for assistance with the International Trade Commission if their businesses are affected, the congressmen explained in a joint news release.

They cited a filing by Wheatland Tube in 2005 when it joined with six other domestic pipe producers to show that Chinese imports of standard pipe surged from 9,000 tons in 2002 to 266,000 tons in 2004.

The petition claimed the increase was hurting the American businesses. Chinese pipe prices at the time were less than the cost of raw materials.

The ITC agreed that assistance was appropriate, but the president rejected that recommendation.

Wheatland’s Sharon plant was shut down because it could no longer viably compete with the overwhelming imports from China, the news release asserts.

When the plant closed, 257 jobs were lost.

President Bush has rejected every ITC recommendation for relief, and America’s manufacturing industry has lost 3.5 million jobs over the last eight years, the release says.

“Giving manufacturers a say in deciding whether to follow the International Trade Commission’s recommendations will help to ensure manufacturers are not unfairly denied assistance on the basis of ideology alone,” Altmire said.

“This legislation preserves the burden of proof for industries seeking relief, but removes the current bias against petitioning workers and employers and injects additional oversight to ensure our trade laws work as Congress intended,” said English, who is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. That committee has jurisdiction over trade policy.


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