I've made changing the way our country approaches trade a top
priority because of how directly it impacts our economy in Maine and
nationally. For once, it seems that we are about to finally improve the
way we enforce trade agreements. This is a very positive development
because doing so would help ensure that our businesses are on a more
level playing field globally, which would help boost job creation and
economic development in Maine.
On February 28th, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating
the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC), which will bring
together resources from across the federal government to go after unfair
trade practices in countries around the world, including China. This
new office will serve as the primary forum within the federal government
for executive departments and agencies to coordinate enforcement of
international trade rules.
In January, I wrote a letter to President Obama requesting that he
establish this new trade enforcement office, and I'm pleased to see that
it's moving forward.
For too long our country has not focused enough resources on
enforcing our trade agreements. Federal trade enforcement efforts
currently are dispersed across numerous offices within federal and
independent agencies. These agencies' enforcement initiatives are not
well-coordinated and are supported by insufficient resources, leaving
American businesses and workers without one consolidated resource for
their trade violation concerns.
It's critical for our businesses and workers that our government has
their back and enforces international trade rules. I believe a dedicated
trade enforcement office would streamline efforts and help do just
The President signing an executive order brings us one more important
step closer to the level of trade enforcement we need to counter the
predatory practices of countries like China. But now that the President
has acted, there is still one more step to take to ensure this new
office has teeth: ensuring Congress funds it adequately.
Congress needs to step up and make this new office a priority by
fully funding its operations. Politicians like to talk about the need to
create a level playing field for our businesses so that they can
compete in the global marketplace. It's now time that this rhetoric is
backed up with action.
Too often over the years, the U.S. has opened its markets to foreign
competition without ensuring equal access. And what happens is a
familiar story: while we play by the rules, other countries use
technical barriers or unfair duties and tariffs to game international
trade laws. We've seen it directly impact Maine's paper industry and
Whether ITEC is funded or not will really determine if it's a success
or failure. That's why I'm taking the lead on Capitol Hill to build
support for fully funding the new office. A robust and fully-funded ITEC
will help fight unfair trade practices abroad and protect and grow
American jobs here at home.
Creating ITEC was an important step in our nation's effort to combat
trade cheaters. Now it's up to Congress to ensure it is successful. I'm
hopeful, that even in this unfortunately partisan environment, members
of Congress of all political stripes can come together on this.
Representative Mike Michaud