Withdrawing Tariff Threats Would Be a Trade Surrender

AAM President Scott Paul addresses House Ways and Means Committee

China will continue to cheat and circumvent U.S. trade laws at the cost of American jobs unless Congress and the administration apply extraordinary pressure, according to Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing who testified at Thursday’s House Ways and Means Committee hearing covering the effects of recently announced Section 301 and Section 232 tariffs.

“Withdrawing the threat of tariffs without achieving results would be tantamount to waving the white flag of trade surrender,” Paul said at the hearing. “If a negotiated solution with specific disciplines and automatic enforcement provisions can be agreed to, then, and only then, we should look at lifting tariffs. Otherwise, we would be abandoning the best leverage we’ve had in years.”

Paul’s push to have China reforms its anti-competitive practices and market-distorting behaviors comes after Beijing promised to do so for years, but has yet to take meaningful action. Admitting that the administration’s process to deliver the emergency measure is far from perfect, Paul argues that action is still needed.

“Returning to a posture of ‘endless dialogue’ with China simply will not work,” wrote Paul in a testimony that outlines how many of America’s manufacturing jobs losses are directly tied to Chinese imports and trade behaviors. 
“The only progress the U.S. has ever made with serial trade cheats is when Congress and the administration had a united trade front,” Paul added. “American workers need action now more than ever, and these tariffs are only band-aids being applied after years of China’s predatory practices.”

Citing the steel and aluminum tariffs in his testimony, Paul points out that over 3,500 American jobs have already been announced due to the president’s Section 232 proclamation signed last month. Paul also noted new cooperation from trading partners like Canada and the European Union which are working to prevent illegal circumvention practices and overcapacity safeguards.

Over one-third of American manufacturing jobs have been lost since 1998, and actions like the steel and aluminum tariffs are needed to prompt job creation and protect national security. Last month alone, manufacturing made up 21 percent of all private sector job growth and countries like South Korea have been more open to negotiating trade deals as a result of steel and aluminum tariffs.

“Don’t be fooled by China’s recent promises to open up its market,” said Paul. “Trade is at a tipping point for Americans of all political backgrounds. Without a comprehensive trade strategy and sustained enforcement, China won’t change and American manufacturing jobs will pay the price.”

To read Paul’s oral remarks and his written testimony, visit AmericanManufacturing.org and Medium.