The United States Thursday filed an unfair trade practices complaint against China over duties levied on domestic automakers.
The action, the administration's seventh such complaint against China, comes the same day as President Barack Obama launched a two-day campaign swing from Ohio - a state where many automotive suppliers are located.
In the trade complaint, the U.S. is accusing China of unfairly attempting to stifle U.S. automotive exports to that country with unfair duties on more than $3 billion of American-produced automobiles.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the action was aimed at continuing the administration's efforts to ensure China does not misuse its trade laws in violation of international trade agreements.
"As we have made clear, the Obama Administration will continue to fight to ensure that China does not misuse its trade laws and violate its international trade commitments to block exports of American-made products" Kirk said. "American auto workers and manufacturers deserve a level playing field and we are taking every step necessary to stand up for them."
Obama, speaking in Maumee, Ohio, struck a similar theme, arguing that all American workers need to compete in international trade markets is a level playing field.
"That's why my administration brought trade cases against China at a faster pace than the previous administration -- and we've won those cases," he said. "Americans aren't afraid to compete. We believe in competition. I believe in trade. And I know this: Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else."
He added, "As long as we're competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we'll do just fine. But we're going to make sure that competition is fair."
Obama also sought to remind the assembled audience that he has long stood up for the U.S. auto industry, while highlighting his differences with former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
"I want goods shipped around the world, stamped with 'Made in America,'" he said. "Unlike my opponent, I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas, start rewarding companies that are investing right here in Toledo, right here in Ohio, right here in Maumee."
Obama added, "Governor Romney's experience has been in owning companies that were called 'pioneers' of outsourcing. … My experience has been in saving the American auto industry."
Obama warned the Ohio crowd that between now and the November election they would bombarded by "scary" ads arguing that he is out of touch or thinks that government is the solution to every problem.
"That's what Mitt Romney will say. That's what Republicans in Congress will say. And that's their plan for winning an election, but it's not a plan to create jobs," Obama said. "It's not a plan to provide you with greater security for you and your family. It's not a plan to restore the middle class or restore the American Dream."
He added, "That's the kind of plan we need right now … a plan to build the middle class and restore the American Dream."
Obama urged his supporters to get out on the campaign trail and talk to their friends and neighbors about his vision for the future of the nation.
"I'm not a Democrat first; I'm an American first. I believe we rise or fall as one nation, as one people," he said. "I believe what's stopping us is not our capacity to meet our challenges; what's stopping us is our politics. And that's something you have the power to solve."
He added, "Nothing can stop us, America. Let's remind the world just why it is we live in the greatest nation on Earth."
Although many questioned whether the trade action's timing was politically motivated, White House officials insisted that there was no connection.
"This is an action that has been in development for quite a long time," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "The USTR studies these issues and prepares actions with great deliberation to ensure their success at the WTO."
He added, "This one has been in development for many, many months, and that's just a fact."
by RTT Staff Writer
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