Kaptur concerned about trading with ChinaWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has serious concerns about the “downside” of trading with the People’s Republic of China related to that country’s political climate, the U.S. trade deficit, counterfeiting, protecting intellectual property, product safety, human rights and work force issues.
“For every upside there is a downside,” said Kaptur, referring to her many reasons for concern about doing business with China.
“A country’s political system is the most important factor I consider when I look at dealing with them. Business relationships exist within the political system. The politics aren’t normal with a communist country like China,” Kaptur said.
Kaptur has sponsored HR-1958, a House bill that would “withdraw normal trade relations treatment” and apply certain provisions of the Trade Act of l974 to “the products of the People’s Republic of China.”
Introduced on April 15, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means April 19 and to the Subcommittee on Trade April 25 where it remains today.
Kaptur explained that it includes a provision to establish a framework for relations
between the U.S. and People’s Republic of China. Normal trade relations may be extended to the products of China only in accordance with the provisions of the Trade Act of 1974.
“China is not a normal economy and it does not play by the rules. They exploit labor and the workers. The human side of what’s going on there is really important,” Kaptur said.
“We need to tie human rights to trade deals with China because the government doesn’t allow dissent or respect freedom of speech,” said County Commissioner Ben Konop, who traveled to Toledo’s sister city Qinhuangdao in China earlier this year.
“When we trade with undemocratic nations, there should be standards. If we don’t maintain our standards, we diminish our own and erode our freedom,” Kaptur said.
“China needs to raise its standards and environmental laws to compete on a more level playing field,” said City Councilman Mark Sobczak, an advocate for trading with China.
The congresswoman offers plenty of reasons supported by facts and history to support her strict stand on China.
“The trade deficit is the bottom line and it’s not good with China or Japan because it’s not a partnership with those countries,” said Kaptur.
The trade deficit has doubled since President Bush took office, reaching $763.6 billion last year. Bush’s administration has added more than $3 trillion to the national debt with the country’s debts now totaling $8.8 trillion.
The U.S. currently has a trade deficit of more than $230 billion with China. That country is also the second largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury Securities with $321 billion or 15 percent of the foreign-owned total. Only Japan owns more U.S. securities with $640 billion and 31 percent.
Fifteen years ago, the U.S. had no trade deficit with China and now it’s more than $200 billion.
“More than half of the U.S. debt is now financed by foreign creditors. America should never again allow itself to be placed in a subservient position to foreign countries or global corporations,” said Kaptur.
“I am opposed to becoming more dependent on foreign capital and goods. You drain your country’s wealth and become a debtor rather than an owner and you’re not in control. We’re trading our future away. America should stand on her own two feet.”
Failed trade policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Kaptur says she opposed from the beginning, have racked up the red ink. As trade deficit explodes toward $1 trillion, federal debt escalates with it, said Kaptur.
“I am apprehensive about theft of our intellectual properties and counterfeiting of our goods,” Kaptur said. “There are real issues of national security and the security of intellectual properties when dealing with China.”
Kaptur believes that China is the largest counterfeiter in the world. The Chinese violate U.S. patent and copyright laws and steal intellectual properties, she added.
“How is the University of Toledo going to protect all of the intellectual properties that it may share with China?” asked Kaptur.
China’s copyright and patent laws are completely compliant as a member of the World Trade Organization. The problem appears to be that enforcement of those laws is inconsistent.
“Enforcement is better than it was three years ago, but it is still spotty,” said Llew Gibbons, associate professor of law at the UT College of Law, who just returned from China in July.
Gibbons participated in a special program for 30 graduate students at the Intellectual Property Rights School & Center at Zhognan University for Finance and Law. China is putting more effort and resources into the enforcement of its intellectual property laws, according to Gibbons.
“The problem is that provincial governments control the local markets and the laws are harder to enforce at the local levels,” said Gibbons.
The Chinese government owns the rights and trademark for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Gibbons said it will be interesting to see how well it polices the sale of counterfeit goods then.
Rogers shares concerns
Kaptur is not the only member of Congress that is concerned about trading with China. In fact, a Republican congressman from Michigan shares her concerns and more.
U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich – Brighton) believes that China’s unfair trade practices continue to harm manufacturers in the U.S. “China’s cheating has cost us jobs,” he said.
“I have been a strong advocate of enforcing fair trade with China,” Rogers said. “The time has passed when we need to take off the kid gloves and get tough about demanding that China live up to the laws that put us on a level playing field.”
“We must put a stop to their counterfeit products like auto parts, currency manipulation and the outright theft of intellectual properties,” he said.
Counterfeit auto parts cost U.S. automotive suppliers $12 billion annually in sales, which translates to about 200,000 jobs lost each year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FBI reports that counterfeit products steal about $250 billion in sales and 750,000 U.S. jobs a year.
Rogers recently introduced legislation that would strengthen the Office of China Compliance to boost enforcement of international trade rules. As a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Trade, Rogers knows that China ignores international trade law, using unfair practices that are literally stealing American jobs.
“Workers in the U.S. can compete in the global economy as long as trade rules are fair and all nations abide by the laws governing international trade,” said Rogers who served as an FBI Special Agent. “China must be held accountable for its cheating and the impact on American workers and their families.”
Some observers note that what has held the U.S. relationship with the European Union together for so many years is a fundamental value consensus on democracy, human rights, liberal economics and a common destiny. Some suggest that value consensus does not apply to China and the ideological perspective of the Chinese elite, according to a study conducted by the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver.