Leveling the Playing Field With China

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed my legislation that would finally crack down on China’s currency manipulation — an unfair trade practice that has driven the elimination of over 160,000 jobs in New York over the past decade. For six years, I have pushed this legislation, because both Democratic and Republican administrations have failed to stand up and fight back against the Chinese government’s mercantilist practices.

For years, we’ve been in a trade war with China ­ and it’s not going that well. New York companies are fighting for survival with everything they’ve got — battling subsidized Chinese exports with a built-in price advantage of 20-40 percent, a direct result of China’s manipulation of its currency.

I’ve visited dozens of businesses across New York over the last several years, and the message has been loud and clear. Whether it’s JK Lumber in New Hartford, Ceno Technologies in Buffalo, or optics companies in Rochester, they tell me one thing: Give us a level playing field, and we can compete with anyone in the world. But when Chinese companies get a 30-yard start in a 100-yard dash, we lose.

For far too long, the U.S. has let China get away with economic murder. The Chinese government manipulates its currency to advantage its exporters and we do nothing but ask for more talks. Our failure to act, and the failure of the global trading community to act, has simply emboldened the Chinese government to adopt new policies and practices to boost China’s economy while torpedoing our own. American companies now must battle additional market-distorting practices sanctioned by the Chinese government such as lax enforcement of intellectual property rights, discriminatory indigenous innovation policies, export restraints on raw materials including rare earths, and heavy subsidization of Chinese state-owned enterprises. Enough is enough; this has to stop.

The bill that passed the Senate gives the government the authority to impose additional duties on imports from a country, like China, that manipulates its currency. If an American manufacturer is being undercut by a Chinese firm that’s breaking the rules, they can request a tariff on the competing product to level the playing field. Our economy is crying out for action, and it is time we finally stand up for ourselves and fight back against these unfair practices.

I am not prepared to raise the white flag on American manufacturing and New York jobs. I know that American manufacturers can successfully compete against Chinese companies at home, in China, and around the world ­ but only if the playing field is level. Our bill helps level that playing field. It has strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate because it has the potential to create millions of jobs in the next several years. I hope my colleagues in the House will do the right thing, pass this bill, and send it to President Obama for his signature. We’ve been taken advantage of for far too long, but now the jig is up.

— U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-NY


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