Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama administration will not reopen NAFTA negotiations

by M. Ulric Killion

On April 20, 2009, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration announced that there are no present plans to reopen negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). When campaigning for the presidency, then Senator Obama promised his supporters that he would reopen negotiations on NAFTA and revise key provisions such as NAFTA labor and environmental provisions. According to the New York Times:

The president has said we will look at all of our options, but I think they can be addressed without having to reopen the agreement," said Ronald Kirk, the United States trade representative. Mr. Kirk spoke in a conference call with reporters after returning from the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad over the weekend. He said President Obama conferred there with the leaders of Mexico and Canada — the other parties to the free trade agreement — and "they are all of the mind we should look for opportunities to strengthen Nafta.

Obama's announcement signals genuine hope for free and fair trade. The announcement by the Obama's administration also addresses the earlier and critical concerns of Senator John McCain, as concerns the appointment of Ron Kirk as the US trade representative.

During the earlier confirmation hearings, when Kirk announced that he "will chart the right course by looking out for American workers and shining a spotlight on trade violations," there were the critical observations of Senator John McCain that deserve our attention. As the Associated Press reported, "On the other side, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was voting for Kirk with some reluctance. Senator McCain said, "that while Kirk supported international trade in a broad sense, he has also made comments suggesting that protectionism might not be so bad after all." Kirk's public comments or statements are problematic for obvious reasons, especially for proponents of free and fair trade.

For instance, Senator McCain "cited Kirk's opposition to a negotiated trade agreement with South Korea and his objections to a pending agreement with Colombia. Kirk has said that a third negotiated trade deal left over from the Bush administration, with Panama, could be ready for a congressional vote soon." Senator McCain also rightly "took aim at a buy American provision in the economic stimulus bill and a provision in a just-passed spending bill killing a NAFTA program allowing Mexican trucks to operate in the United States. Such measures, he said, invite retaliation from trading partners and send a signal to the world that America is going down a path of protectionism."

When campaigning for the US presidency, Obama declared that he would attempt to renegotiation key trade agreements, such as NAFTA, while, allegedly, advising Canadian officials that this would not be the case. In the interim, and in the post-election administration of Obama, the global subprime crisis appears to be promoting protectionist trade policies in the United States and other countries.

It bears mentioning, and constant reiteration, that free and fair trade is good for the US economy, as also true of its key trade agreements such as NAFTA. While many find a variety of reasons (i.e., the war in Iraq) to criticize the former Bush administration, the Bush administration did promote free and fair trade, and this should not be one of the grounds for criticizing the former administration.

Once more it should be reiterated, and perhaps even continuously reiterated, that protectionist trade policies and barriers threaten the future growth and prosperity of a US economy and the world multilateral trade system. Whereas, "Free trade and free trade agreements, on the other hand, produce bi-directional benefits; promote growth and prosperity in U.S.-China trade; promote transparency, fairness and openness in trade regimes across the board; make a positive contribution to strengthening the rule of law; and enhance the national welfare of all nations" (Killion, 2004).

Nonetheless, we should, though after allowing the Obama administration a sufficient period for transition to office, eventually judge the US presidency of Obama and his administration, including Ron Kirk, not by their political rhetoric, but rather by their deeds (i.e., trade policies. Such as how the Obama Administration handles key and sensitive trade-related issues, how they manage the critical and pending finalization (or ratification) of the Korea-US FTA (KORUS FTA), how they handle pending trade agreement (FTA) with Columbis and, especially, how they finally resolve the pending disputes concerning NAFTA.

For now, Senator McCain, as earlier mentioned, rightly observed Kirk's comments on key trade-related issues as problematic. Such as, "Kirk's opposition to a negotiated trade agreement with South Korea and his objections to a pending agreement with Colombia" (AP, 2009). All of this occurring at a time when, "South Korea and the European Union on Tuesday reached a tentative agreement to scrap tariffs on goods traded between them, a deal that, if ratified, would send a strong signal on free trade at a time of rising protectionist tendencies" (Wassenger, 2009).

Concerning the values of the multilateral trading system, as Pascal Lamy (WTO, 2009) explained, "We have recently heard ideas for a Global Economic Charter — an occasion for the international community to re-build a consensus over the basic principles and values that would underlie their economic relations, emulating the founding fathers of the United Nations Charter of 1945." Lamy further observed: "The WTO and its predecessor, the GATT, can provide a source of inspiration in this regard" (WTO, 2009).


Brian Knowlton, In Shit, Obama Doesn't Plan to Reopen Nafta Talks, NY Times, April 20, 2009.
Jim Abrams, Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk confirmed as US trade representative, AP, March 18, 2009, (Chicago Tribune).

Killion, M. Ulric. 2004. China's Foreign Currency Regime: The Kagan Thesis and Legalification of the WTO Agreement, 14 Minn. J. Global Trade 43, (Winter).

WTO News: Speeces - DG Pascal Lamy, March 2, 2009. Bettin Wassenger, Tenative Free Trade Deal for S. Korea and Europe, NY Times, March 24, 2009.
South Korea, EU Reach Agreement on FTA, Bernama (Malaysian news agency), March 24, 2009.

© Protected - All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2009.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

China's economy "Bottoming out" provides ray of hope

The China Daily reported that China's government foresees a "better than expected" trend in the economy, which follows on the heels of what it characterized as an initial success in implementation of the November 2008 – $586 billion stimulus package. As reported by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on April 16, 2009, first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) totaled 6,574 billion yuan (or US$960 billion), or an annualized growth of 6.1 percent, though a much slower growth than the 10.6 percent in 2008, and lower than the reported 6.8 percent in the previous quarter. As for industrial output, it rose 5.1 percent year on year with most of the growth occurring in March, which is a reported 8.3 percent growth.. Then there are retailed sales that rose 15.9 percent in real terms, which was up 3.6 percentage point from a year earlier.

During the April 15th State Council executive meeting, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, it was also reported that investment and domestic consumption rose, which was attributed to being spurred by a healthy and credit-rich banking system.

The views of economists in Mainland China concur with the State Council's optimism.

Cao Yuanzheng, chief economist of BOC International, an investment service affiliated to Bank of China, said many major indices point to a recovery in the second quarter. Dong Xian'an, chief economist of Southwest Securities, a domestic brokerage, said the "nightmare" of the fourth quarter last year seemed to have ended thanks to the "strong, visible hand" of the government. Li Xunlei, research director of Guotai Jun'an, another brokerage, also said the economy is bottoming out. He forecast second quarter GDP growth of 7 percent. There has been widespread speculation that the government would launch a new round of fiscal stimulus, but with the recent positive signs, it is unlikely that the State Council will do so in the near future, economists noted (China Daily).

Despite the optimistism displaying at the State Council meeting, there were still words of caution, as they recognized that it might be too early to conclude a decisive victory. For instance, although investment and domestic consumption rose, industrial growth remains sluggish, while continuing to show net declines.

The World Bank shares the same optimisim. A study conducted by the World Bank, and titled Battling the Forces of Global Recession, perceives China's bottomoing out as providing a much-needed ray of hope for East Asian and Pacific economies.

Tokyo, April 7, 2009 – As countries in the East Asia and Pacific region prepare themselves for an expected surge in joblessness resulting from the global slowdown, a ray of hope may be emerging with signs of China's economy bottoming out by mid-2009, says the World Bank's latest half-yearly assessment of the region's economic health.

The latest East Asia and Pacific Update, titled Battling the Forces of Global Recession, says a recovery in China – fueled largely by the country's huge economic stimulus package – is likely to begin this year and take full hold in 2010, potentially contributing to the region's stabilization, and perhaps recovery. But with China still heavily reliant on exports to world markets that continue to contract, the Update warns that a truly sustainable recovery in the East Asia and Pacific region ultimately depends on developments in the advanced economies.

In the face of much weaker exports and a slowing down in domestic demand, the World Bank is forecasting that real GDP growth in developing East Asia [1] will reach only 5.3 percent in 2009, down from 8 percent in 2008 and 11.4 percent in 2007. (Last month, in its China Quarterly Update, the Bank downgraded its forecast for China's growth to 6.5 percent this year from 13 percent in 2007.).





Zhang Ran, Economy 'better than expected', China Daily eclips, April 17, 2009.

World Bank: New & Broadcast, Chance Of A Bottoming Out In China Provides Ray Of Hope On An Otherwise Gloomy Horizon, Says World Bank's Review Of East Asian And Pacific Economies, Press Release No:2009/297/EXC, April 7, 2009, [世界银行《东亚经济半年报》说中国经济有望触底,给黯淡前景带来一线希望].

Copyright © Protected - All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bergsten - We Should listen to Beijing's Currency Idea

China Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan's earlier call to replace the US dollar with a new global currency continues to enjoy slowly growing support in the international community. According to C. Fred Bergsten, Governor Zhou's idea has a great deal of merit. However, while Asian countries, Brazil, and Russia support Governor Zhou's proposal, other countries, such as, the United States, rejected his idea.

Bergsten generally characterized the merits of Governor Zhou's proposal, especially the creation of an "open-ended SDR-denominated fund", as follows:

The substitution account would be a winning proposition for all concerned. The dollar holders would obtain instant diversification. The United States would avoid the risk of a free fall of the dollar. Europe would prevent a sharp rise in the euro. The global system would eliminate a potential source of great instability. These benefits call for the use of a global asset to make up any losses to the account from future falls in the dollar, such as creation of additional SDR or the IMF's gold holdings (including the sizeable US share of them). The main argument against such an account is that China has accumulated its dollar hoard of more than $1,000 billion by keeping its currency substantially undervalued, through massive intervention in the foreign exchange markets, and thus deserves no sympathy if it takes losses on those dollars. One might even suspect that the Chinese have mentally booked such losses as the implicit cost of the subsidy to exports and jobs achieved through their currency manipulation. But there is no sign that China will stop intervening, or that its surpluses will abate, even though the US external deficit has declined sharply, and its reserve build-up is thus likely to become even more threatening. Moreover, this is an ideal issue for China and the United States to develop the informal "G-2" partnership that is needed to provide global economic leadership to pass needed reforms at the existing multilateral institutions. . . (Bergsten, 2009).


C. Fred Bergsten, We Should listen to Beijing's Currency Idea, April 8, 2009 (Co-Ed in the Financial Times).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Islam and the West

ALASTAIR CROOKE cuts a romantic figure. A thoughtful former agent of Britain's foreign-intelligence service, he has worked assiduously since retiring from MI6 to explain to a suspicious West the violent Islamist movements of the Middle East, such as Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hizbullah in Lebanon. His "Conflicts Forum", based in Beirut, aims to "engage and listen to Islamists, while challenging Western misconceptions". This is useful work. The West has plainly failed to understand such movements and the reasons for their popularity. Unfortunately, his book is a missed opportunity.

This book argues that what is at stake between Islam and the West is a fundamental clash of values: nothing less than a different way of thinking about human beings. The West, Mr Crooke avers, organises society around the largely amoral appetites and choices of the individual. Islam sees the human as "a multidimensional creature", larger than the sum of his own desires and appetites, informed by "innate moral values", and responsible to the community. And whereas the West imposes on others, "by force if necessary", a soulless philosophy of free markets and personal choice, the force used by Islamist movements is to be understood as an act of spiritual, cultural and social resistance.

A 1960s campus radicalism wafts through the book. Mr Crooke cites the anti-colonial writings of Frantz Fanon with enthusiasm, whereas those of free-market advocates are mocked and dismissed. Far from being closed societies resisting modernity, he says, Iran and its protégés are heeding Ayatollah Khomeini's call to replace the "colonised brain" with the "independent brain". The "resistance" in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan has "shown Muslims that there is an alternative": armed defiance not only against "Western military hegemony" but also against the West's "political stature and narrative".

How much more persuasive this book would have been if Mr Crooke had curbed his enthusiasm, or been just a bit franker about the blemishes on the movements he admires. Instead he glosses over Hamas's suicide attacks on civilians and its notoriously anti-Semitic founding charter. The final straw for this reviewer was a passage in which Mr Crooke quotes approvingly the head of Hizbullah's television station prating about the need for "resistance media" to show "objectivity" and "respect for its audience". Incredibly, Mr Crooke fails to mention that this hate-mongering station routinely pumps out vicious anti-Semitic propaganda, including a drama series that portrays hook-nosed orthodox Jews murdering gentile children in order to use their blood for Passover bread. . .


Islam and the West - What to think?, The Economist (Books & Arts), April 8, 2009.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Before leaving for Summit of the Americas, Obama says U.S. will lift some Cuba travel restrictions

President Obama will announce today that he is lifting travel restrictions that block Cuban Americans from traveling to Cuba and will relax the rules governing what items can be sent to the island, a senior White House official said.

The decision does not lift the trade embargo on communist Cuba but eases the prohibitions that have restricted Cuban Americans from visiting their relatives and has limited what they can send back home. . . .

A White House aide said the president believes that democratic change will come to the Cuban nation more quickly if the United States reaches out to the people of Cuba and their relatives in the United States.

But the move is highly controversial, especially among those who supported former president George W. Bush's hardline policy, which viewed the restrictions as a way of spurring political change. . . .

The announcement, which is expected to come later today, comes as the president prepares to leave Thursday for the Summit of the America's in Trinidad, and a stop in Mexico.

Source: Michael D. Shear, Obama to Lift Cuba Travel Restrictions, Washington Post, April 13, 2009.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Except for China, Global Trade is still in "Free Fall"

The plunge in world economies that accelerated last fall is now reducing the volume of world trade at the fastest rate seen in decades. But February trade figures released this week by several countries provided tentative signs that the fall may be starting to slow. . . "World trade is falling much faster now than in 1929-30," two economists, Barry Eichengreen of the University of California and Kevin H. O'Rourke of Trinity College in Ireland, wrote in a paper released this week titled, "A Tale of Two Depressions." . . .

Economists see some evidence of rising demand in China, however. While its overall imports continued to weaken last month, China's large fiscal stimulus program appears to be starting to bolster imports from some of its neighbors. Its imports from Australia, the only country in the group not experiencing a substantial drop in exports, have soared.

"Korea and Taiwan also have rising exports to China," Mr. Eichengreen said in an interview. "It does indicate there is at least one source of increased demand."

China's own exports, however, fell 41 percent during the month, the most of any of the countries shown. . .


Floyd Norris, Trade is falling fast across the globe, NY Times, April. 10, 2009.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Global Economic Crisis is driving call for U.S. Protectionism

In terms of the world multilateral trade system, the onset of the global economic crisis may eventually cause a shift in US trade policy, which is a shift toward a more aggressive US trade policy (i.e., aggressive trade policies and trade barriers). An announced shift in trade policies and barriers that the Obama administration attempted to soften by the re-characterization of this policy shift, as Anthony Faiola of the Washington Times explained, as simply the move "to more strongly emphasize domestic and social issues, from the displacement of American workers to climate change."

Despite the contagion effect of the economic crisis that has affected all countries and economies, both developed and developing countries and economics, and both western and non-western countries and economies, in the halls of Washington US policymakers appear ready to pursue a more aggressive trade regime, including aggressive trade policies and barriers. For instance, as Faiola observed, the US "will seek new benchmarks before supporting already-written trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea and is suggesting that it will dig in its heels on global trade talks, demanding that other countries make broader concessions first." The shifting focus of world multilateral trade, at least from the perceptive of US policymakers, appears to emphasis the interests of constituents and special interest groups, which do not necessarily reflect the greater societal interests in the long run, and pursuit of the greater aspirations lying at the heart of world multilateral trade system (i.e., the Bretton Woods Institutions, WTO, etc.).

Faiolo wrties, "Even before the global economy went code red late last year, talks aimed at expanding global trade stalled as Western countries warred with emerging giants like China and India over how to further open markets. "

However, in terms of the larger picture, what US policymakers seemingly fail to understand is the real reality that within twenty-five years the combined GDP of China and India will exceed that of the G7 nations. From 2030 to 2040, China will emerge as the world's larger economy. Moreover, by 2050, China's current two trillion US dollar GDP is set to balloon to 48.6 trillion, while India's GDP, now weighing in under a trillion dollars, will hit about 27 trillion.

Nonetheless, as Faiolo writes, "Those divides appear to be more unbreachable than ever as world leaders move to protect their domestic industries from the ravages of the financial crisis, embracing new trade barriers aimed at imported goods and other measures meant to restrict the flow of capital outside their borders. In the United States, more Americans are blaming cheap imports for job losses at home and congressional leaders pressed successfully to include a "buy American" provision in the $787 billion stimulus program to give an edge to U.S.-made products." "Our consensus to advance international trade is frayed," Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said at Kirk's yesterday. "Our faith in the international trading system is badly shaken."

Notwithstanding historical debate on whether to link world multilateral trade with social (welfare) programs, in the end, the actions of US policymakers focused on achieving short-term rather long-term goals and objectives may well be creating greater potential problems for the future that come with attendant greater social costs.


Anthony Faiola, U.S. to Toughen Its Stance On Trade, Washington Post, March 10, 2009, A01.

M. Ulric Killion, Regional Economic Integration, Aug. 2008.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Turkistan Islamic Party Urges Jihad in China

The Terrorist Monitor (2009) recently published an article warning of the Turkistan Islam Party ("TIP") urging Jihad in China. Several warnings apparently appear in the latest issue of the journal Turkistan al-Muslimah (Muslim Turkistan), which was published by a jihai web forum (, March 26, 2009). The Terrorist Monitor reports that the journal is identified as the work of al-Hizb al-Islami al-Turkistani, or simply, the TIP. A concern for China is that the latest publication of Turkistan al-Muslimah focused on the Chinese government's alleged discrimination against the Turkic Uyghur Muslims of China, though, distinguishably, failing to mention the China's Hui (Han Chinese) Muslims. The journal's stated aim is, supposedly, revealing:

"[T]he real situation of our Muslim nation in East Turkistan, which is living under the occupation of the Communist Chinese and to disclose the falsehood of the Chinese government, exposing its crimes [against Muslims] to the world... [we want the] world to understand our cause and rights, that we are seeking our freedom and independence and to be ruled by God's Shari'a (Issue 1). . . . " (Terrorist Monitor, 2009).

Then there is the published interview of the Amir Abdul Haq, who, as leader of the TIP, made the following statements.

"[T]he Amir spoke about the training camps he and his Uyghur colleagues attended in Khost, Bagram, Kabul and Herat in the late 1990s, when Afghanistan was still controlled by Taliban. He informed the readers that the Uyghur group was part of the military wing of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) led by the late Uzbek jihadi commander, Juma Namangani (Issue 3 pp 10-11). The TIP was unknown before it emerged last year to make unsubstantiated (and often implausible) claims of responsibility for various terrorist actions across China. It also issued threats of biological, chemical and conventional attacks on the 2008 Beijing Olympics, though the group apparently failed to carry out any operations during that period. Little has been heard from the movement since. . . (Terrorist Monitor, 2009).

The Qaeda-style article written by Abu Ja'afar al-Mansour is also noteworthy, as he warns Beijing:

"China beware... take a lesson from those who preceded you, the Americans and [their] allies, who were defeated badly in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Do not walk on the same road and do not use the [same] approach in prejudices [against] God's subjects and in looting their wealth and fortunes, and in shedding the blood of the America is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan (Issue 3). . . " (Terrorist Monitor, 2009).


Murad Batal al-Shishani, "Journal of the Turkistan Islamic Party Urges Jihad in China", Terrorist Monitor, Volume VII, Issue 9, April 10, 2009.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Outlook on 2009 - US Trade Legislation

Future activities of the US House Committee on Ways and Means are critical to trade relations, especially its review of systemic problems in Sino-U.S. trade relations, which include issues related to China and US intellectual property rights and use of industrial subsidies, and China's alleged manipulation of its currency.

According to a list of proposed activities circulated by the US House Committee on Ways and Means (111th Congress), the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittees will focus on several trade issues, such as the enforcement of WTO rights, ways to strengthen US trade remedy laws, trying to improve existing mechanisms to open foreign markets to US products, and improving border enforcement (i.e., problems of counterfeit imports and import safety). There is also H.R. 496, the proposed new trade law.

"H.R. 496, the Trade Enforcement Act of 2009, would actively open markets by eliminating foreign barriers to U.S. goods and services exports, combat counterfeiting and piracy, restore rights under U.S. trade remedy laws and strengthen the U.S. ability to address unfair and illegal trade practices. The bill comes after years of lax enforcement under the Bush Administration. "'In order to reap the benefits of trade, and solidify the United States' role as a participant in international affairs, it is vital that our trading partners play by the same rules,' said Chairman Rangel. 'Our trading partners need to live up to their end of the agreements and open their markets to U.S. exporters. This bill would help eliminate trade-distorting subsidies, and the dumping of products into our market. Simultaneously, the legislation will preserve intellectual property rights, and ensure that exports to the United States are safe. The Trade Enforcement Act will help to regain confidence in U.S. trade policy.' Further, 'The Trade Enforcement Act will help to expand markets for U.S. exporters, shape the terms of competition, and ensure that trade violations are addressed,' said Chairman Levin. 'It is only through an activist agenda that we can have the two-way trade that expands markets and shapes globalization.'"

Although many of these issues are also addressed in the Trade Enforcement Act of 2009 (H.R. 496), on January 14, 2009, the Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (Democrat-NY) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sandy Levin (Democrat-Mich) introduced wide-ranging legislation, which may be considered within the next few months and addresses issues of promoting and strengthening US trade enforcement efforts, such as the following.

"The Department of Commerce's decision to allow countervailing duties to be assessed against products from non-market economy countries such as China would be codified, which would provide firmer legal ground for this trade remedy mechanism and prevent future administrations from reversing course. The legislation makes the presumption that special difficulties exist in calculating the amount of subsidy benefits in China and would therefore require the DOC to use terms and conditions prevailing outside the mainland. In addition, the legislation would allow the DOC to use special methodologies even if China eventually graduates from NME to market economy status.

The DOC would be barred from considering requests for market economy treatment at the individual business enterprise level in anti-dumping proceedings involving an NME.

Congress would have to approve any decision by the DOC to graduate a country from NME to market economy status.

The president's discretion to deny relief in a Section 421 China product-specific safeguard investigation would be limited. The legislation would allow Congress to override a presidential decision not to establish temporary duties or quotas when recommended by the U.S. International Trade Commission and would impose additional limitations on the president's authority to deny remedial action.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would be required to identify annually "priority foreign countries" with unfair trade barriers and take action to eliminate those barriers.

The "Super 301" process would be restored and the USTR would be required to annually prioritise the most significant barriers to U.S. exports and work to eliminate them.

An Office of the Congressional Trade Enforcer would be created to investigate barriers to U.S. exports, develop complaints against foreign countries and call on the USTR to file cases."

[ 中,給 位。 位,有 准。 421 施,總 制。法 國會 貿 定,同 一步 力。 貿 貿 的「優 家」,並 壘。 動「超 301 款」程 序,每 貿 壘,並 壘。 貿 處,負 調 壘,制 訴,以 貿 訴。].

In the end, according to the Hong Kong Trader, the House may approve such legislation, propose an amended version of the same legislation or even attach other provisions to the legislation. The trade subcommittee also intends to examine other issues of interest. For example, it plans to hold hearings to assess the efficacy of U.S. preferential duty programmes such as the Generalised System of Preferences and evaluate options for reform. … Moreover, the subcommittee may consider exploring the possibility of providing additional duty preferences to least-developed countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia, including possible tariff breaks for certain textile and apparel products. … Finally, the trade subcommittee plans to draft a new miscellaneous tariff bill, which would provide duty suspensions for thousands of products on a temporary basis.

Virtually all duty suspensions currently in effect will expire at the end of this year as the previous Congress did not enact an MTB. Generally, provisions for new duty suspensions may be added during this process provided the action is not controversial (i.e., no U.S. party objects) and certain revenue limitations are not exceeded. Of special significance is a bill that could be included in an eventual MTB package or considered as stand-alone legislation that would provide duty-free treatment to U.S. imports of a wide variety of shoes, including lower to moderately-priced footwear and children's shoes. The tariff lines covered by this legislation account for approximately 60 percent of all shoes currently sold in the United States, which are mostly of mainland Chinese origin.

There is strong bi-partisan support for removing these duties because their original purpose of protecting domestic production is no longer valid and they impose a heavy burden on low- and middle-income households. Import duties on types of shoes that are still produced in the U.S., mostly higher-quality niche products, would not be affected by this legislation. In addition to all of this, the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expected to consider legislation introduced by Rep. John Dingell (Democrat-Michigan) to enhance the safety of imported food and drugs.


House Ways and Means, Rangel, Levin Introduce Trade Enforcement Bill -- Bill would strengthen enforcement, help to ensure that trading partners play by the rules, For Immediate Release: January 15, 2009.

Outlook for Congressional Action on Trade-Related Legislation this Year, Hong Kong Trader, Issue 04, February 27, 2009.

H.R. 496, the Trade Enforcement Act of 2009, Click here to read a short summary of the bill.

Rep. Sandy Levin (D.-Mich), Op-Ed, A policy that goes on the offense for U.S. businesses and workers, The, June 10, 2008.