US Trade Rep. Accepts Michaud's Invitation to Visit Maine New Balance Factory
During a meeting he set up between New Balance and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk, Congressman Mike Michaud was informed that Kirk will be visiting a Maine New Balance factory this fall. The USTR is a cabinet-level officer and has the responsibility to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the White House.
"I'm pleased that Ambassador Kirk accepted my invitation to tour a Maine New Balance facility," said Michaud. "It will be extremely valuable for him to see firsthand how important these jobs are to not only our workers but also to our state. I really appreciate him taking the time to come up to Maine. It's critical that we make sure this new trade agreement doesn't disadvantage our domestic manufacturers and threaten the thousands of jobs they support."
Earlier today, wearing a pair of New Balance sneakers made in Norridgewock, Maine, Michaud participated in a news conference on Capitol Hill he helped organize with Maine New Balance workers and a bipartisan group of members of Congress. The group rallied together to urge the Obama Administration to fight to preserve footwear tariffs as the negotiations continue over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
Under free trade agreements, tariffs are generally phased out. If that happens, Vietnam's currency manipulation, state-owned enterprises, and low labor and environmental standards will give its footwear factories a significant and unfair advantage over American producers like New Balance.
Michaud and DeLauro Introduce Commonsense Trade Enforcement Bill
Ensures Russia complies with WTO commitments
Congressman Mike Michaud (ME-02), Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) have introduced the Russian World Trade Organization Commitments Verification Act of 2012. The legislation would require the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to complete annual reports on Russia's compliance with its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations and to take action when they have not met their commitments.
"We learned from China that countries do not always keep the promises they make to join the WTO, and we can't afford to make the same mistake with Russia. This commonsense legislation will increase the transparency and accountability of Russia's WTO membership and reduce the likelihood that their continued violation of trade laws will cost U.S. jobs like it has with China," said Congressman Michaud.
"Nothing is more important than getting our economy back on track and this bill will help us do just that. Holding Russia responsible for upholding their commitments will help ensure Americans are not getting a raw deal because other countries are bending the rules while we play by them. Our experiences with China have showed we must be vigilant on this to ensure we have fair trade that protects the jobs of middle class American workers," said Congresswoman DeLauro.
"Congressman Michaud and Congresswoman DeLauro's legislation places emphasis on enforcement and accountability. Too many trade agreements have been signed but not enforced. The Michaud-DeLauro bill seeks to change that and shows that they recognize that improving the lives of working people requires concrete, positive approaches not mindless acceptance of the status quo," said International President of the United Steelworkers Leo Gerard.
The legislation specifically requires USTR to issue annual reports on Russia's WTO commitments compliance that includes: a description of the actions taken by Russia to meet their commitments; identification of the commitments they have not fully implemented; and any action taken by Russia to achieve full compliance. The bill also requires USTR to take action to ensure Russia meets its WTO obligations and explicitly authorizes the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance to request USTR action in the event Russia has not fulfilled their WTO commitments. The same legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and John Rockefeller (D-WV).
In order to join the WTO, Russia was required to bring its laws into conformity with WTO rules and commitments. In addition, Russia agreed to nondiscriminatory treatment of imports of goods and services; reduction of tariff levels; transparency in trade measures; limitation of agricultural subsidies; and enforcement of intellection property rights, among other others. China made similar commitments when it joined the WTO in 2001 but has not fulfilled all of their obligations in their 10 years of membership.
Michaud Disappointed with Softwood Lumber Decision
Congressman Mike Michaud issued the following statement in response to a decision in a softwood lumber arbitration dispute brought by the United States against Canada.
"Today's ruling by the arbitration panel is a major disappointment," said Michaud. "Sawmills and lumber retailers in Maine are already struggling to keep their doors open, and this decision provides them no relief. It's clear that we need to revisit the Softwood Lumber Agreement to make sure that it adequately protects U.S. businesses and workers from unfair trade practices. I will work with other members of the Lumber Trade Caucus in Congress to strengthen it."
Background and summary information of the situation provided by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) can be found here.