Manufacturers Facing the China Challenge Need Enforceable Trade Agreements, Not Short-Term Tariffs, to Get Fair Treatment

Manufacturers in the United States have a complicated trading relationship with China. There are significant opportunities but also real, long-running challenges resulting from trade barriers and market-distorting behavior. To solve these challenges, manufacturers need strong, enforceable solutions and a clear, long-term strategic approach—like an innovative, enforceable trade agreement with China.

This call to action was at the heart of testimony earlier today from National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President of International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey. In oral remarks that matched the NAM’s written submission, Dempsey renewed NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons’ call for the Trump administration to negotiate a comprehensive, enforceable trade agreement with China that would directly address issues raised by President Donald Trump, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and others.

Such an agreement, Dempsey argued, is the best and most realistic way to restructure our economic relationship with China and treat the disease rather than just the symptoms. She noted that the imposition of tariffs would not solve the underlying market distortions, including intellectual property theft, raised in USTR’s Section 301 and other investigations. She also noted that while the proposed tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of imported goods could provide short-term relief to some manufacturers, they would have a broadly negative impact on manufacturers in the United States.

Manufacturers have been energized by the president’s commitment to grow manufacturing opportunities across the country, including leadership on tax reform and cutting red tape that have encouraged manufacturers to invest in America. Now, as Dempsey said today, manufacturers are urging President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer and others to avoid putting this good work at risk with tariffs and instead focus on addressing once and for all the underlying issues that have robbed manufacturers and their workers of a fair and competitive playing field with China—and that the best way to do so is by pursuing an innovative, enforceable trade agreement with China.

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong is the Director for International Business Policy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he works with NAM member companies to develop and advocate the association’s positions and priorities on intellectual property, standards and regulatory concerns, and investment policy issues, as well as issues in China and India. Mr. Ong has on-the-ground experience on many of these issues in previous stints at the US-China Business Council and the Duke University's Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness.
Ryan Ong

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