Credit, China, Trade and Climate: The Manufacturing Counicl

A Commerce Department’s advisory panel, the Manufacturing Council, held its first meeting since the beginning of the Obama Administration on Monday. We don’t find any details of the discussions on the Commerce website (everything council-related is from the Bush era), but reporters were on hand and covered various aspects of Secretary Locke’s comments.

Bloomberg, “Obama Seeks Ways to Aid Auto-Parts Makers, Locke Says”

Reuters, “US commerce chief worried about firms’ liquidity”

The most important bit of news is that Secretary Locke clarified (retracted, backed off, restated) comments made in China last week that suggested U.S. consumers should bear the costs for controlling emissions blamed for climate change.

Reuters summarizes the shifting expressions, “China must ‘pay’ to cut greenhouse gases – US”:

As the United States and other developed countries make costly commitments to address climate change, “developing countries like China must do the same,” Locke told members of the Manufacturing Council, a private sector advisory group.

“They’ve got to step up. They’ve got to pay for the cost of complying with global climate change. They’ve got to invest in energy efficiency and conservation, but also very definitive steps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Locke said.

The comment followed Locke’s statement last week in China that U.S. consumers should pay for the carbon content of goods they consume from countries around the world.

“It’s important that those who consume the products being made all around the world to the benefit of America — and it’s our own consumption activity that’s causing the emission of greenhouse gases, then quite frankly Americans need to pay for that,” Locke told the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai after meetings with Chinese officials in Beijing.

Helpful clarifications, but in the details lie potential trade wars. See the Dow-Jones story, “US Wants China, India Trade To Meet Climate, Labor Standards.” Over the past several years, organized labor and their Congressional allies insisted on environmental and labor standards being included in pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, and even when completed, kept adding new demands. Imagine trying to follow that path with China and India — it hands an effective veto to organized labor.

We’ll link ot Secretary Locke’s statement to the council when the Commerce Department posts it.

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