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Congresswoman Louise Slaughter

Representing the 25th District of New York

Slaughter Introduces Legislation to Provide American Workers with a Level Playing Field on International Trade

June 1, 2017
Press Release
Part of Slaughter’s effort to chart an entirely new course on trade

ROCHESTER, NY — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) today introduced the Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit Reduction Act to change how we approach international trade and give American workers and manufacturers the tools they need to compete on a level playing field around the globe. Slaughter has long been considered a leader on fair trade issues, and this bill continues her efforts to rebuild America’s manufacturing base. This legislation comes on the heels of the administration’s decision to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Slaughter voted against.

“You cannot be a superpower if you don’t make anything, but America is sadly at a major disadvantage. Our nation has engaged in decades of misguided trade deals that have been anything but fair to our workers and manufacturers. Many communities have seen the impacts in shuttered warehouses, empty factories, and outsourced jobs. The legislation I’m introducing today will transform how our nation approaches international trade so it finally benefits American workers, businesses, and manufacturers,” said Slaughter.

Right now, the United States faces significant barriers in key markets that prevent fair market access and deny our manufacturers export opportunities. The Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit Reduction Act would direct the Department of Commerce to withdraw or “snapback” trade concessions like tariff reductions if a trade partner does not live up to its obligations under a free trade agreement or if it adds new tariff or non-tariff trade barriers.

Slaughter’s bill also addresses one of the major missed opportunities for American workers – our skyrocketing trade deficits. The United States, once the manufacturer for the world, has run annual trade deficits since the 1970s. Those deficits grew precipitously in the 1990s following the enactment of NAFTA. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the annual trade deficit for goods and services in 1993 was $70 billion. In 2015, it was $500 billion.

The Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit Reduction Act would put a major focus on addressing the most significant trade deficits that exist between the United States and other countries. The bill would require the United States to halt all imports from countries with a trade deficit that totals twice the value of imports as U.S. exports for six consecutive months. Trading would resume when the trade deficit becomes more balanced or the president signals an intent to renegotiate the trade agreement with that country. The bill allows U.S. companies to apply for a one-year wavier to allow products to be imported if they are not available from other sources.

Slaughter has worked tirelessly to help Rochester manufacturers while defending them from unfair competition overseas. Last year, she led a bipartisan effort with members New York congressional delegation in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country megadeal modeled after the job-killing NAFTA.  The trade agreement, formally rejected by the president earlier this year, would have given foreign companies increased access to the lucrative American market, forcing U.S. workers to compete with countries such as Vietnam, where the minimum wage is less than 65 cents an hour and workers’ rights are almost nonexistent.