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USW: Our petition does not advocate protectionism

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The United Steelworkers (USW) is not advocating protectionism with its petition requesting the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) "impose an import quota on China of 21 million consumer tires used on passenger cars, light trucks, minivans and sport utility vehicles per year."

The petition was filed in answer to "the flood of imported consumer tires from China" that have led to "thousands of job losses and a growing number of plant closings throughout the United States." (See "Union seeks relief from flood of Chinese imports" on for more information.)

"Should the ITC agree with the petition, and should President Obama grant temporary relief, won't that be a sign that the United States is becoming more protectionist?" asks the union. The USW's answer is "no." And here's why.

* Section 421 is a trade remedy law that China itself agreed to be subject to as a condition for its joining the WTO. It is included in China's Protocol of Accession and is therefore entirely in compliance with international trading rules.

* "If anything, it is precisely during uncertain economic times that trading nations should be especially diligent in honoring rights and obligations of the rules-based trading system. Popular support for international trade rests on the principle that it is conducted in a fair manner and that there are mechanisms to prevent catastrophic economic dislocation and soften the impact of market forces. The last thing the global trading system needs right now is declining support for trade from workers and citizens in trading nations.

* Trade remedy laws are only used to address extraordinary import surges. In fact, trade remedies generally impact only about one-half of 1% of total U.S. trade. Trade remedies are designed to address large imbalances and simply level the playing field.

* As a general matter, trading nations accept a certain amount of control in the flow of goods as part of well-functioning, rules-based global trading system.

* The United States and other nations have not -- and should not -- abandon their rights to prevent injury to their domestic industries and workers because of the current economic downturn. The exercise of these rights under the global trading system is simply one aspect of that system's functioning, and not a rejection of that system.

* In short, the recession has not negated our right to help American workers adversely affected by trade.

For other pertinent questions and answers surrounding the union's petition, visit and click under "Q&A."

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