TPP loopholes take aim at iron ore, steel
Guest editorial by Congressman Rick Nolan
America’s iron ore mining and steel industries would be hit hardest by the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Giant loopholes in the TPP would help put some 450,000 Americans out of work and deal a devastating blow to the entire U.S. manufacturing sector. Democrats and Republicans from California to Connecticut joined me last week in sending that message to President Obama. Our letter urged him to use every means available to ensure the survival of these industries so critical to our national security, and to fix our broken trade enforcement process.
America’s economy is recovering and demand for steel is on the rise; but as we pointed out, our domestic steel mills are still operating at only about 70% of capacity while China and other nations have been allowed to capture the other 30% by illegally dumping millions of tons of low grade, foreign government-subsidized steel into our marketplace. As a result, nearly 2,000 Iron Range miners are out of work, along with thousands more steelworkers across the nation. With every steel manufacturing job supporting 7 more jobs in related industries, the cumulative effect is compounding by the day.
The TPP would worsen this situation by openin g U.S. markets to unfair competition from so-called “partner” nations, and by giving China and other non-TPP countries easier access. For example, the TPP would weaken automobile rules of origin to allow 55% of finished automobiles and up to 70% of many valuable auto parts sold in America to be produced in non-TPP countries. Other loopholes would allow almost any country to dump slightly altered auto parts into the U.S. and label them “TPP Member Sourced.”
The TPP also fails to crack down on currency manipulation, a trick other nations use to gain unfair advantage by artificially lowering the price of goods they export to the U.S. To be clear, American workers and companies can complete and win anywhere in the world on a level playing field; but the TPP tilts the field to favor the cheaters. That’s why the TPP is in big trouble in Congress, and why I will continue lobbying my colleagues to defeat it when it comes to us for an up or down vote.