Feb 13 2007


WASHINGTON, D.C. - As a new record annual trade deficit was announced Tuesday, three U.S. Senators said they are introducing legislation to rescind Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status granted to China in 2000.  The three federal lawmakers are U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). In 2001, Congress granted China Permanent Normal Trade Relations status.  Prior to enacting this law, China was subject to an annual review of their Most Favored Nation trade status.  This allowed for the U.S. to ensure that China complied with its international commitments.  The legislation introduced today would revoke China's Permanent Normal Trade Relations status and return to a system where the U.S. government would annually review whether or not to grant China Most Favored Nation status. The change would give the U.S. leverage in convincing China to trade fairly. "Since 2001, the first year China operated with PNTR status, our trade deficit with China ballooned from $83 billion a year to well over $232.5 billion in 2006," Senator Byron Dorgan said. "It's not difficult to see why. China has engaged in systematic labor abuses, intellectual property theft and piracy, currency manipulation and unfair barriers against U.S. exports. If  PNTR status means a country is playing by the rules in international trade, it is absurd to continue to apply that status to China. Congress can - and must - send a clear message that China needs to stop cheating and start trading fairly. Rescinding its PNTR status sends that message." "The Chinese continue to manipulate their currency to give themselves an unfair advantage over American manufacturers," said Senator Lindsey Graham.  "Revoking China's PNTR status is a necessary step given their reluctance to embrace the principles of free and fair trade.  It's time to replace our current open-ended commitment to China with a system that provides an annual review and allows for decisions to be based on actual Chinese performance.  Without the ability to annually review Chinese trade practices, it will continue to be difficult to persuade China to make the necessary changes to provide a level playing field for American manufacturers." "U.S. trade policy has failed workers and small businesses across our country," Senator Sherrod Brown said. "As far as I am concerned, there is nothing normal about allowing our trading partners to use slave labor to compete with our workers.  There is nothing normal about manipulating currency to make exports cheaper.  There is nothing normal about mouthing concern for intellectual property in the midst of rampant piracy.  And if this is indeed normal, then I certainly don't want it to be permanent." ####