The Uneven Playing Field Ignored by the Trade Deal

September 10, 2019

Section 301 Tariffs On China, Part 2

Editor’s note: Part Two of a series on the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese products by CPA Buy American Committee co-chair James Stuber.

Read part one here

 [James Stuber | August 13, 2019 | The American Dossier| Part two of a four-part series]

The forced technology transfers and other practices singled out in the failed U.S.-China trade negotiations leave other aspects of the uneven playing field completely unaddressed.

Of course, there are the Chinese workers’ low wages, long hours, and life in cramped dormitories separated from their children. But there is more. In the 1970s, Americans decided we would no longer tolerate manufacturing that polluted the air and water and maimed and sickened workers. So, we enacted and implemented the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. China has done none of this.

I spoke recently with someone who was, sadly, responsible for the preparation of his shuttered factory’s equipment for shipment to China. He started to explain the safety mechanisms of the machines, but was interrupted by his Chinese counterpart who said, “don’t bother; we’re just going to remove those.”

Under severe price pressure in the supply chain from the likes of Walmart and Apple and Dell Computers, Chinese factory operators cut costs by exposing workers to toxic chemicals and unsafe machines, and by contaminating the air, water, and soil of surrounding communities. The result is millions of workers missing digits and limbs and suffering from cancers and neurological disorders, and hazardous smog, black rivers, and landscapes too polluted with heavy metals to safely grow crops.

These practices lower the Chinese firms’ costs to price points at which firms complying with American laws cannot compete. The announced 10% tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods are a step toward correcting these cost subsidies, paid so dearly by Chinese workers and communities. Matching the 25% rate on the previous $250 billion would be better yet.

Read the original article here.

Read part three of the four part series here.

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