Have You Taken Action Yet? Tell Congress to Give America’s Workers and Manufacturers Trade Tools to Compete

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Mar 16 2022 |
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Nearly 2,500 Alliance for American Manufacturing supporters already have written their Members of Congress asking them to support the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0.

It’s been a couple of weeks since we last blogged about the Bipartisan Innovation Act, legislation that aims to invest in things like semiconductors and re-shore supply chains. Since that time, the need to strengthen and grow American manufacturing has only become more apparent, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has worsened the disruption of global supply chains and rising COVID-19 cases have caused factory shutdowns in China.

The United States must be able to make the things it needs, full stop.

But at the same time, the U.S. also must take care to ensure American manufacturers and workers have the trade tools they need to take on trade cheats. The Bipartisan Innovation Act offers an opportunity to do that — if it’s done right. And to make sure that happens, we are asking people like you to raise your voice.

Nearly 2,500 Alliance for American Manufacturing supporters already have written their Members of Congress in support of including legislation called the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 in the final version of the Bipartisan Innovation Act.

The Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 aims to modernize America’s trade remedy laws, including by expediating certain trade cases and providing additional tools to address things like cross-border subsidization, in which foreign governments subsidize their own manufacturers in third-country markets.

The House included the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 when it approved its version of the Bipartisan Innovation Act (which it called the America COMPETES Act). Unfortunately, the Senate didn’t do the same when it passed its version (called the United States Innovation and Competition Act). Now the two chambers are working to approve the final version of the bill, and it’s vital that the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 is in the final version.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: It’s not enough to merely invest in manufacturing — American manufacturers and workers also must be able to fight back against unfair trade. Otherwise, all that new investment will likely go to waste.

Take what happened with face masks. At the start of COVID-19 pandemic, China’s government cut off exports of things like surgical face masks and N-95 respirators, leaving the U.S. woefully unprepared. Medical workers on the frontlines didn’t even have enough PPE; there was no way to provide protection to the general public.

Within weeks, American manufacturers stepped up to the plate, with some even starting factories from scratch to make this critical equipment. And yet… by September 2021, Chinese imports once again were flooding the market, priced artificially low at as little as a penny a mask (thanks to heavy subsidies from China’s government). That was hugely unfair to American manufacturers, who operate in a free market and according to U.S. labor and environmental guidelines. It led to layoffs and even factory closures.

The whole thing is especially frustrating because there was so much talk from policymakers on both sides of the aisle about the need to reshore critical manufacturing in the wake of the pandemic. And there was major investment from companies big and small to do just that!

But unless American manufacturers and workers are given the proper tools to compete on a level playing field, China’s government will continue to use unfair trade practices to wipe out the competition. Every. Single. Time.

Congress is rightfully working toward making historic investments in critical areas like semiconductors. But at the same time, lawmakers also must make sure that U.S. companies and workers will be able to act to level the playing field against trade cheaters like China. Otherwise, investments on their own may not be enough.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your Members of Congress to support including the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 in the Bipartisan Innovation Act.