WASHINGTON – House Democrats, citing the rising U.S. trade deficit (search), urged President Bush on Thursday to take action against China, Japan, the European Union (search) and six other countries accused of unfair trade practices.
The letter to Bush, signed by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and nine other party and trade leaders, came a day after the administration accused 61 countries and groups of nations of significant trade barriers (search) that harm U.S. manufacturers and farmers.
The Democrats urged the administration to move from listing transgressions to enforcing U.S. rights. "Once again, the report identifies numerous barriers that have existed for years and have yet to be effectively addressed by the administration," they wrote.
They said the office of the U.S. Trade Representative — in the four years since Bush took office — has brought only a dozen cases to the World Trade Organization (search), compared with more than 10 a year during the Clinton administration.
They urged Bush to appeal cases before the WTO or take other action against nine countries on 11 trade issues. The administration, they said, should pursue cases against:
—China for currency manipulation and intellectual property rights violations that hurt the U.S. recording industry. China should be put on a "priority watch list" of countries that present significant piracy problems for U.S. copyright holders if consultations and a WTO dispute resolution case don't solve the problem, they said.
—The European Union for its Airbus subsidies.
—Japan for currency manipulation and non-tariff barriers to U.S. autos and auto parts.
The other countries cited for copyright and trademark violations and non-tariff barriers were Brazil, India, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia and Thailand.
USTR spokesperson Neena Moorjani, in response to the Democratic letter, said litigation should not be the only approach.
"Many of the cases we have been asked to litigate we have been able to resolve satisfactorily through consultations. Where necessary, though, we have shown we will use litigation," she said, noting that the United States is the only country to file a WTO case against China.
China last year accounted for $162 billion of this country's record trade deficit of $617 billion.