Portman requests European Parliament coordinate with US on addressing Chinese trade violations

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) recently raised concerns that proposed changes to how Chinese imports are handled by the European Commission could hinder the United States’ ability to act on trade violations.

In a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Portman and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) expressed doubts about a European Commission proposal that would change how the European Union (EU) handles imports from World Trade Organization (WTO) member non-market economies like China.

“In light of China’s request this week to begin consultations with the U.S. and EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO), it is imperative that we coordinate our policies on non-market economy designations, particularly for China,” the senators wrote.

“We ask (Schulz) to ensure the Parliament’s position on this proposal is established only after Congress and the Parliament have had the opportunity to collaborate on the most effective approach to state control and ownership in China’s economy and methods for how to treat imports from non-market economies in our trade remedy laws.”

Portman and Brown noted that China’s state-run steel industry has led to overcapacity in the American steel industry, impacting steel production in Ohio and across the United States.

“We urge the Parliament to work with Congress to consider carefully and to devise the most effective approach both to the distorted prices of China’s non-market economy and the larger question of China’s continuing trade violations,” the letter states.

The commission’s proposal also could take away leverage the United States and other countries currently have to encourage China’s transition away from a state-controlled economy.

The commission’s proposal would eliminate any distinction between non-market economy and market economy countries under the EU antidumping law, the senators said.

“As a result, it appears unlikely China would actually be treated as a non-market economy in EU antidumping investigations. We believe these policy changes would hinder international efforts to improve China’s fulfillment of its trade obligations.”

The senators said China has not complied with its trade obligations since joining the WTO 15 years ago – and American manufacturers have paid the price.