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Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk on Enforcement at Allegheny Technologies

Remarks by Ambassador Ron Kirk

July 30, 2010
Allegheny Technologies, Inc.
Washington, Pennsylvania

*As Prepared for Delivery*


“It’s a pleasure to be with you all here at ATI, one of the leading specialty metals manufacturing companies in the world. As Pat was telling me, you are committed to being the very best and you are going global to get it done.

“It seems like every time I come to Pennsylvania, I learn something new. As proud and hard-working people, you are constantly forging ahead with new ideas.

“Local companies like Westinghouse are applying high-tech expertise to build nuclear power plants in China. Manufacturers like Sauereisen are selling state-of-the-art chemicals in Africa, Asia, and South America.

“And, of course, workers like you here at ATI are helping to lead the transition to a clean energy economy – providing specialty metals for everything from solar panels and wind turbines to more efficient electrical grids.

“Most folks in Pittsburgh are pretty friendly, even to a Cowboys fan from Dallas like me. Yes, I know this is Steelers Country. I mean, I know you all don’t think that the Cowboys’ five Super Bowl rings compare to the six that the Steelers hold. Or that Troy Aikman was just as good as Terry Bradshaw in his prime. But that’s ok.

“Although we may disagree on football, I know we share a commitment to putting people to work and making sure American manufacturers can compete and win in the global economy.

“And we all agree that requires trade policy that is both smart and tough.

“So I’m here today to affirm that the Obama Administration will enforce America’s trade rights – that means your trade rights – around the world. My job as United States Trade Representative is to make sure that all U.S. workers have the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.

“Since my very first day on the job, I have worked to restore Americans’ trust in the fact that trade can work – and does work – for you.

“Last July I came to Pittsburgh and visited the Edgar Thomson steel plant. And I promised a roomful of steelworkers that USTR would do more on trade enforcement – and pledged to start work right away.

“As I stand here one year later, I’m proud to report that we’ve done exactly that – and we’ve gotten results. Our enforcement has sustained or created jobs that depend on trade:

“Because President Obama took action to stem the tide of imported Chinese tires flooding the U.S. market, mothers and fathers still are bringing home paychecks from tire factories in North Carolina and Arkansas.

“We’ve also successfully eliminated Chinese industrial policy that encouraged auto parts suppliers to move their production facilities to China, so that men and women in Ohio and Michigan are still working on assembly lines here in America.

“And because we took the European Union to court and won, the jobs of thousands of U.S. aerospace engineers and electricians from Washington State to Kansas and South Carolina are more secure. And more Americans, from welders to widget-makers will have a chance at future jobs as our aircraft manufacturers compete on a more level playing field.

“And the list goes on and on…

“USTR is expanding our enforcement playbook and executing every pattern in it to assert U.S. trading rights. We intend for our workers, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and service providers to reap all the benefits of trade.

“That’s why last year, when an independent agency ruled that a surge of imported Chinese tires was harming the American tire industry and costing Americans their jobs, President Obama acted where others had not.

“No other U.S. president has ever used the United States’ authority to hold China accountable for flooding our country with cheap products that undercut American goods and put our workers out of work.

“Now, this remedy is helping the U.S. tire industry to recover, and putting folks back on the job.

“In the tire case, we stood up for workers with action here at home. When USTR fights for America’s trade rights around the world, we keep our options open and then run the play that works best to save and create jobs here at home.

“For example: in the last several months, our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Indonesia – a kind of agreement that we have with many countries that we use to address trade barriers and build our relationships – has helped us get American pork back into the Indonesian market, and keep American packaged food products, and American films flowing there as well.

“Another program – the Generalized System of Preferences – gives some of the world’s poorest nations preferential access to the U.S. market. But as a condition for that access, these countries have to respect the rights of workers. This year we agreed to investigate labor practices in Sri Lanka and are currently conducting labor reviews in several countries.

“Those are just two examples of where the Obama Administration intervenes as soon as we see problems arise.

“We’re also hammering out agreements in disputes that have been harming or threatening the livelihoods of American workers for years.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve put high-quality American beef on more dinner plates across Europe after a 20-year standoff, and we secured an agreement that can finally protect the intellectual property of American pharmaceuticals in Israel after more than 5 years of negotiation.

“Dialogue is always our preferred course. But in many cases we have to be ready to litigate, because we will not negotiate indefinitely where the rights of U.S. workers and businesses are concerned.

“It is a little known – and rarely reported – fact that even while USTR negotiators are seeking resolutions through dialogue, our Office of General Counsel is often laying the ground work to take legal action in the event that we fail to resolve issues through negotiation. It is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing to do as well.

“There are situations in which going to dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization is the best course of action.

“We won a WTO case against China so U.S. auto parts suppliers can sell to China instead of sending jobs there.

“And we launched another case last year against China for restricting exports of raw materials in a way that gives Chinese companies huge cost advantages over U.S. steel, aluminum and chemical businesses and workers.

“We have also achieved an important settlement that keeps China from putting its thumb on the scale with subsidies that promote its exports over American products ranging from textiles and refrigerators to beer and peanuts.

“And, just one month ago today, the United States won a landmark case challenging the European Union’s illegal subsidies to Airbus – subsidies that helped Airbus edge out American-made planes in the global market, and endangered thousands of jobs here in the United States.

“Our successes with these WTO cases help workers like you here at ATI – because the specialty metals you produce go into things like auto parts, steel manufacturing, and aerospace construction.

“When we take enforcement actions we are insisting that American workers and businesses get to compete in a system of rules that applies equally to all.

“In that vein, the Obama Administration is taking new action soon on labor rights.

“In order to sustain jobs at home – and just to do the right thing – we have to support decent working conditions for workers all over the world.

“And we have to insist that our FTA partners uphold the labor commitments they’ve agreed to.

“So today I am announcing that the Obama Administration will file a case against Guatemala under our trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic, for apparent violations of obligations on labor rights.

“This is the first labor case the United States has ever brought against a trade agreement partner.

“With this case, we are sending a strong message that our trading partners must protect their own workers, that the Obama Administration will not tolerate labor violations that place U.S. workers at a disadvantage, and that we are prepared to enforce the full spectrum of American trade rights from labor to the environment.

“In addition to our case regarding trade obligations under CAFTA-DR, we are also very concerned that the problem of labor-related violence is becoming increasingly serious in Guatemala. We will be working with partners across the Obama Administration to examine and take up this issue with Guatemala as well in the near future.

“The spectrum of trade issues we have to tackle grows broader every day. For example, different foreign regulatory standards for health, safety, and science create problems for a number of U.S. industries.

“In these instances, we work to intervene early – to spot and solve problems sooner rather than later. In March of this year, we fulfilled a pledge I made last year at the Mon Valley Works, to publish the first Administration reports focusing specifically on technical barriers to trade and other barriers, such as unfair sanitary and phytosanitary standards that keep our agricultural products out of foreign markets.

“Now, why do you care? What does ‘phytosanitary’ even mean? I don’t think I knew before I took this job. But I can tell you what this effort means for you.

“Here’s an example: Russia is the largest export market for U.S poultry – worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But recently Russian regulators blocked U.S. chicken from Russia’s market based on their concerns about how U.S. poultry is sanitized. And while we respect countries’ rights to impose food safety rules, Russia’s actions were not based on sound science.

“So we negotiated with the Russians – even President Obama engaged with President Medvedev on this. We restored market access for U.S. poultry products. Now not only will U.S. poultry farmers win, but you may win too because your chicken could end up costing less here at home.

“That’s the kind of win-win situation smart trade enforcement creates.

“All of this reflects the Obama Administration’s robust approach to our trade policy – where tough trade enforcement and smart trade expansion go hand in hand.

“Even as we step up enforcement, the Obama Administration will seize the new opportunities that international growth can present to American workers in the next decade, seeking trade agreements that will help to double our exports and boost prosperity here at home – because we can’t afford to leave any jobs on the table.

“That is why last month President Obama launched an initiative to complete the U.S. – Korea Trade Agreement.

“Along with the pending trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, the Korea agreement is a critical opportunity to create good jobs here at home.

“Increased exports due to the Korea deal alone may support as many as 70,000 additional jobs nationwide.

“We know Pennsylvania can sell to South Korea. But we want to get this agreement right … and resolve our final concerns … so that it opens up even more opportunities for you in one of the fastest growing markets in the world. And we’re working to win you additional access to dynamic markets across Asia through our Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“As we do this critical work, we will commit to enforcing each of these agreements so that the rights we win aren’t just paper promises – so they will actually create jobs in Pennsylvania and all across America.

“Because to the Obama Administration your families aren’t just numbers on paper. And so, your jobs are not just statistics.

“A job helps parents feed their kids in McKeesport. A job puts dollars in a retirement account in Aliquippa. And a job can build college funds for a toddler or teenager anywhere in Pennsylvania.

“So at USTR we are going to keep fighting for you.

“Trade enforcement is something USTR does every day. Not just when we are at the negotiating table, or going to court. Enforcement requires our constant effort, here at home and around the world. Because when the Obama Administration creates and saves enough jobs through trade enforcement, we help to keep communities together in Pennsylvania and across America.

“And we help keep this economy moving forward.

“You are living proof that we have the best workers, the best products, and the most vibrant companies here in the United States, and that ‘Made in America’ is still one of the most desired brands in the world.

“Like the Steelers and the Cowboys, American manufacturing has a proud tradition. We’ve weathered tough times before and emerged stronger. When the playing field is even, nobody can beat us.

“You’re setting a wonderful example here at ATI, and on behalf of the Obama Administration I am committed to ensuring that the United States of America has a trade policy that helps you succeed. Thank you.”