WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to introduce the Trade Enforcement Priorities Act of 2011, legislation that would give the federal government more authority to address trade barriers that undermine American workers and domestic manufacturing by reinstating “Super 301” authority.
“Pennsylvania workers have been put at a disadvantage because of unfair trade and lax enforcement of trade laws designed to level the playing field,” said Senator Casey. “We need strong tools to fight unfair trade practices and those tools must be utilized for the benefit of workers and the U.S. economy.”
Sections 301-310 of the Trade Act of 1974 address trade barriers that violate U.S. rights under a trade agreement or represent discriminatory practices that undermine U.S. Commerce. Section 310 of the act, also known as “Super 301,” requires the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to examine and report on the most egregious trade barriers that adversely affect American exports. If the USTR identifies a measure as a “priority foreign country practice,” it is required to initiate a full Section 301 investigation. Super 301 is intended to promote U.S. exports and to signal to our trading partners that certain actions which adversely affect U.S. commerce will warrant immediate action.
Despite these laws, the USTR has largely ignored its enforcement responsibilities over the past eight years, failing to issue a Super 301 since 2001. The Trade Enforcement Priorities Act of 2011 would require the USTR to analyze trade barriers in the National Trade Estimates Report to determine which have the most adverse effect on U.S. exports and employment. Under the bill, the USTR – in consultation with other relevant agencies and Congress – would be required to prioritize its enforcement strategy and work with those countries that have a pattern of unfair trade practices. If the USTR identifies a practice occurring in a country that has a signed a trade agreement with the U.S., previously agreed-to methods of addressing disputes would be used. For example, if an unfair practice is addressed under the WTO Agreement, USTR would be required to seek consultation under the dispute settlement process. If the practice is occurring in a country that does not have an agreement with the U.S., bilateral consultations would be required until an appropriate remedy is identified.