All blog posts related to the issue: International Trade
  • Working for Oregon: Spotlight on Health care, Trade & Taxes

    Traveling throughout Oregon during August, Ron talked with folks about his new role as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and what it means for Oregon. As chair, he can focus even more on crafting policies to create a strong and diverse economy that will generate good-paying jobs, which give all Americans a fair shot at success. In Oregon this means policies that create economic conditions that encourage higher wages and new jobs in fields like technology and trade. Technology is vital to Oregon’s economy --  the tech sector employs more than 60,000 people in the state.  At TechFestNW, Ron outlined the economic impact that NSA mass surveillance has had on the tech industry and the need to create new privacy protections for consumers and businesses. 

    One of the most important tools for creating conditions that will grow Oregon’s economy with good-paying jobs, and to expand the middle-class is the tax code. In Talent, Ron heard from employees and owners at Brammo – makers of cutting-edge electric motorcycles –on how tax credits for electric vehicles and research and development are allowing them to expand and hire more Oregonians.

    Brammo’s leaders also said it is crucial to pry open new markets in Asia and Europe to continue expanding their southern Oregon business. Wyden is working to bulldoze barriers to Oregon products overseas and help companies like Brammo thrive.

    In Portland, Ron visited Albina Head Start’s newest facility where New Market Tax Credits will allow this fantastic program to continue providing its early childhood education services to low-income families.

    Better care for Oregon’s Seniors

    Ron also visited Central Oregon to hear from health care leaders and consumers about their difficulties with the current Medicare system. Their comments at the Bend forum dovetailed with Ron’s bill to improve the Medicare system for recipients with multiple chronic conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. The bipartisan “Better Care, Lower Cost Act of 2014” would help Medicare recipients, especially in rural areas, get better coordinated care while reducing expenses in the Medicare system.

    Protecting communities from oil trains

    Ongoing concerns over oil train safety prompted Ron and Senator Merkley to meet with first responders and others in the Willamette Valley who’d be responsible if there were an accident involving the transportation of oil. At the forum in Eugene, both senators heard local officials express worries about  thousands of gallons of flammable oil moving through Oregon communities without any notice from railroads. And both senators pledged they would fight for transparency in new federal rules, to ensure local fire departments and first responders have the information they need to keep communities as safe as possible.

  • 21st Century Trade Policy Must Give All Americans a Chance to Get Ahead

    As delivered by Senator Wyden at the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference on April 10, 2014.

    Today I want to talk about how trade in the 21st century can create good middle-class jobs and expand what I call the winners’ circle in our country.

    It starts with the fact that American trade policy has always been a story of adaptation and change. Fifty-two years ago, President John Kennedy went before Congress to deliver an address on his vision for international trade. The historical context of that period is apparent throughout the speech.

    President Kennedy rightly saw international trade as more than something that was just an isolated economic matter. To President Kennedy, trade was in effect an inextricable aspect of foreign policy and an important front in the clash between free nations and communism. What President Kennedy was seeking to do was to promote the strength and unity of the West and fortify the relationship between the United States and the European Common Market. Of course those were days when that was a powerful economic force that was growing. President Kennedy knew American businesses and workers had a great chance to benefit from Europe’s growth, and that would create new jobs at home. It was President Kennedy’s judgment, and a correct one in my view that required adaptability and in order to have that American trade policy had to be nimble, and it had to reflect those times. I thought the president summarized it very well when he said, “A new American trade initiative is needed to meet the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly changing world economy.”

    Today’s challenges and opportunities, more than any other time in my lifetime, come down to creating more good-paying, middle-class jobs. It’s my view that every trade discussion, every single trade discussion, must now focus on how trade policy can be a springboard to high-skill, high-wage American jobs. Jobs in innovative fields that didn’t exist before the digital era. Jobs in high-tech manufacturing that can’t be easily outsourced. Jobs that give Americans a ladder into the middle class. Here’s the reality folks, or the one that I hear at every town meeting - I have another coming up in a week or so - millions of middle-class Americans simply don’t believe trade can help them get ahead, or they worry their voices aren’t being heard. A 21st century trade policy has to meet the needs of those who are middle class today and those who aspire to be middle class tomorrow. On my watch, I can tell you, those voices are not going to get short shrift in the Senate Finance Committee.

    My basic philosophy with respect to trade is I want to see Americans grow and make things here, innovate and add value to them here, and ship them somewhere, whether in containers, on airplanes, or in electronic bits and bytes. 

    My view is there are opportunities for the U.S. to do that in trade agreements with nations across the Pacific and in Europe, but it is going to take fresh policies – adapted to the times – to make those trade agreements work for all Americans.                                                       

    I want to be very clear: only trade agreements that include several ironclad protections based on today’s great challenges can pass through Congress. I am not going to accept or advance anything less.

    First, trade agreements must be enforceable, and not just in name only. The United States has to follow through on enforcement at home and around the world. If it doesn’t, trade agreements will not deliver on their job-creating potential and the economic winners’ circle, instead of expanding, could actually shrink.

    A World Trade Organization ruling that came out just last week showed a great example of enforcement done right. China’s restrictions on rare earth mineral exports have done real damage to American businesses and consumers and could cost our country jobs across a wide array of industries.

    Manufacturers of rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, MRI machines, night-vision goggles and many others took a hit. My friend Leo Gerard from the United Steelworkers will tell you the impact China’s restrictions have had on his members’ jobs.  So the U.S. stood up and challenged China in the WTO, and the WTO ruled in America’s favor – making clear that as a member of the global trading system, the Chinese have to play by the rules.

    With American jobs on the line, all trade agreements ought to be enforced with that kind of vigor. Enforcement has to happen without hesitation over politics or other kinds of secondary considerations.

    Right now, for example, Customs often appears to focus on security at the expense of its trade mission. Fake NIKE shoes and counterfeit computer chips with a fake Intel logo too often make their way past America’s border agents unnoticed. Foreign companies have evaded the trade remedy laws that protect American workers, like those in the solar and steel industries. A 21st century trade policy can’t work if the cops at the border aren’t doing an adequate job on the beat.

    Second, trade agreements must promote digital trade and help foster innovation in areas where America leads, like cloud computing. When President Kennedy made his pitch for a modern trade policy to Congress five decades ago, nobody could have imagined what the digital world would become, or how important the Internet would be to the global economy. Even when the North American Free Trade Agreement entered into force in 1994, a lot of trusted economic thinkers had doubts about how big a role the Internet would play in people’s lives.

    Fortunately, our country today enjoys a major trade surplus in digital trade that fuels the growth of high-quality, high-skill jobs. Twenty-first century trade agreements have to preserve this American advantage. They must prevent unnecessary restrictions on data flows or requirements to localize data and servers. Make no mistake about it, these NSA policies have harmed the American brand in parts of this debate and it’s something that I’m going to focus on changing, not just from the Finance Committee, but from the Intelligence Committee as well. They must include assurances that Internet companies have no more legal liability in foreign markets than they do in the U.S.  There is a reason that America is home to the leading technology and Internet companies: our legal framework promotes innovation and the digital economy.

    Preserving this legal framework at home, and promoting it abroad, protects and preserves good paying jobs -- and not just jobs at big technology companies like Google or Intel or IBM. It helps the self-employed: the craftsmen on Etsy and collectors on Ebay, and it helps auto workers, farmers, ranchers, and healthcare providers. Why? Because all of these industries, every one of them, rely on an open global Internet that connects them with foreign consumers and suppliers of digital goods and digital services.

    Similarly, provisions like the PIPA and SOPA bill that would do so much damage to the Internet or result in its censorship have no place in trade agreements. I want everyone to know that I’ll do everything in my power on the Finance Committee to keep them out of future agreements. I welcomed Ambassador Froman’s statement in February that he is committed to keeping them out of TPP. It’s as simple as this: the Internet, which is really the shipping lane of the 21st century has to be kept open and free.

    Third, trade agreements must combat the new breed of predatory practices that distort trade and investment and cost American jobs. Chinese state-owned enterprises, for example, don’t have the risk or borrowing costs that their American competitors do.

    China’s indigenous innovation policies too often undermine American innovators by requiring them to relocate intellectual property. And currency manipulation undercuts American autoworkers and a number of our manufacturers here at home. Again, these are practices that cost good American jobs. They have the same harmful effects on American exports as any other trade barrier, so modern agreements – including the TPP – have to give our country the tools to level the playing field.

    Fourth, some nations simply don’t share America’s commitment to labor and the environment, so when the U.S. doesn’t lead the way with strong standards and enforcement, trade agreements fall short. Commitments on these issues have to be core parts of trade agreements, rather than something like a side deal that’s just coasting along for the ride. This is one area where the U.S. has made progress. Twenty years ago, many considered including any labor or environmental rules in trade agreements to be unreasonable. Today, it is widely recognized that including strong disciplines on both – with equally strong enforcement – is an imperative. People on all sides of the trade debate should more openly acknowledge the progress in these areas and the hard work that went into getting those reforms. But as the situation in Colombia shows, there’s more work to be done. Under my watch, TPP will be much, much different than older agreements in these areas.

    When the United States leads on trade, it is my view it can raise the bar for labor in ways that improve conditions for millions of workers around the world. The TPP is an opportunity to establish improved labor rights in places like Vietnam and Malaysia, but it’s going to take strong enforcement.

    Just like with labor, trade agreements also have to do more to promote environmental protections. By setting and enforcing high standards, the U.S. can protect American jobs from countries that take a hands-off approach to environmental protection. The Trans-Pacific Partnership must put an end to subsidized and illegal fishing that threatens our oceans and stop trade in stolen timber and wood products in countries like Malaysia and Vietnam. The TPP also has to target illegal trafficking in wildlife. When it comes to environment, strong enforcement is a prerequisite for a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that can pass Congress.

    Finally, agreements must be ambitious, opening foreign markets and helping U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers and service providers increase exports. And trade agreements need to be equally ambitious on footwear and apparel. They need to reflect those industries as they are in this century – not as they were in the last one.

    Trade agreements also need to be part of a broader framework, including Trade Adjustment Assistance, that moves exports more efficiently to foreign markets and gives more Americans a chance to climb the economic ladder. There are people who argue that the benefits of trade deals have only gone to some. I argue that if we work to get better, more modern agreements that reflect the lessons of history, we can get trade deals that expand the winners’ circle and help revitalize the middle class.

    So you’ve just gotten a short summary of what I think a modern trade deal should look like. I want to wrap up with a couple of comments about how all of this should move through Congress, what negotiations should look like and the issues I think are also very much on your mind with respect to what’s ahead.

    When it comes to trade talks, in my town hall meetings, people want to know what’s being negotiated. In my view the public has a right to know what the policy choices are. For its part, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to tell the President and the U.S. Trade Representative what they need to accomplish in trade deals, which it has traditionally done by passing trade promotion authority, or “fast-track.” I believe what’s needed to accomplish these things is different from a fast-track, or a “no-track,” and this afternoon I’d like to call it a “smart-track.”

    A smart-track will hold trade negotiators more accountable to the Congress, more accountable to the American people, and help ensure that trade agreements respond to their concerns of our people and their priorities, and not just to special interest groups. It will include procedures to get high-standard agreements through Congress, and procedures that enable Congress to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course. But to get better trade agreements, there must be more transparency in negotiations. The Congress cannot fulfill its constitutional duty on trade if the public doesn’t know what’s at stake or how to weigh in.        

    The public needs to know that somebody at USTR is committed to shedding more light on trade negotiations and ensuring that the American people have a strong voice in trade policy – a voice that is actually heard.

    Going forward in the days and weeks ahead, I am going to work with my colleagues and stakeholders on a proposal that accomplishes these goals and attracts more bipartisan support. As far as I’m concerned, substance is going to drive the timeline.          

    Some would like to lay blame for lack of support for the TPA proposal recently introduced in Congress at the doorstep of the White House.  The president and Ambassador Froman are, frankly, having a difficult time selling a product that members are not thrilled about. Policy matters, and arbitrary timelines won’t work. Instead of casting blame, our time would be better spent rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on policies that expand the winners’ circle for our people. Expanding the winner’s circle is going to mean that Americans see a trade agreement that they actually want to pass. That will build more bipartisan support for the president’s trade priorities.

    I’ve been the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for 22 working days. You’ve got almost all the answers that have been around for 22 working days. I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks listening to what committee members have to say about trade and their priorities. They’ve been sharing their views and suffice it to say there are some strong feelings. I can tell you what unites members of the Finance Committee is a strong desire to strengthen our economy, increasing our competitiveness in tough global markets, creating more good-paying jobs, and in a phrase you’ll hear me talk a lot about because it applies to trade, it applies to tax policy: economics policy that gives everybody in America a chance to get ahead. That’s my view of what trade and our economic policy ought to be about and when done right, trade policy can accomplish that. I’m sure everybody in this room shares that view.

  • Wyden Highlights Energy Efficiency During Fourth of July Week

    Energy efficiency was the buzzword during Senator Wyden’s Fourth of July week in Oregon. In Eugene, Senator Wyden toured the energy efficient Broadway Commerce Building and participated in an energy efficiency roundtable hosted by Pivot Architecture. He then joined energy efficiency leaders, including Bonneville Power Administration Administrator Bill Drummond, Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, and Representative Jules Bailey, to tour the under-construction Eastside Exchange building and to discuss the importance of energy efficiency. At both roundtables, Senator Wyden pressed the need to bring Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency legislation to the Senate floor for a vote. Energy efficiency equals more jobs, more savings, and less pollution.

    Continuing to uphold his promise of conducting a town hall meeting in every Oregon county every year, Senator Wyden held his 671st town hall at the Albany Boys and Girls Club in Linn County. Afterwards, it was time to shoot hoops and answer questions from the kids at the Club!

    It was then on to Pendleton, where Senator Wyden met with wheat farmers, including long-time friend and farmer Mike Thorne, who continue to grow GE-free wheat- like they always have. Afterward, he joined Terry Murry at Pendleton’s KUMA radio to talk about helping make sure that buyers around the globe know Oregon wheat is -and has always been- GE-free. It is important that exports of wheat are uninterrupted. While in Pendleton, Senator Wyden also paid an impromptu visit to the National Guard Armory.

    The week wrapped up with Independence Day celebrations–flipping pancakes, marching in the Creswell parade, meeting with Boy Scout Troop 28, and, of course, fireworks in West Linn! Hope all Oregonians had a fantastic Fourth of July!

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  • More Business, Less Bureaucracy

    Today, what’s made in Oregon isn’t likely to stay in Oregon-- or even in America. Small businesses and their online commerce are growing – especially in Oregon -- and customs law needs to reflect the increasingly global marketplace.

    That’s why Senator Wyden (D- Ore.) and Senator Thune (R- S.D.), introduced the Low Value Shipment Regulatory Modernization Act of 2013, which raises the threshold at which shipments coming into the U.S. are exempt from tariffs from $200 to $800.

    Raising the threshold makes it easier for small businesses who depend on the global marketplace to operate more efficiently and avoid some of the high costs associated with shipping internationally. Businesses can more efficiently move goods across borders and receive returns from international customers faster and at lower cost.  As the government’s administrative costs for shipments $800 or less are significantly reduced, taxpayers win too.

    Bottom line: the Low Value Shipment Regulatory Modernization Act allows small businesses to focus on growing their business and for international e-commerce to be quick commerce.

    Further Reading:

    [BILL TEXT] Low Value Shipment Regulatory Modernization Act of 2013

    [REPORT] Enabling Traders to Enter and Grow on the Global Stage

    Fox Business: Push to Riase Tax-Exempt Thresholf for Shipped Goods

    National Journal:Low Trade Barriers Sought for Small Online Sellers

  • Wyden Speaks on Energy Policy at Portland City Club

    Last Friday, Senator Wyden spoke on how to smartly advance America's energy policy at the Portland City Club for their Friday Forum.

    Senator Wyden pointed to Oregon's historic leadership in energy and natural resources and the role Oregon can continue to play as a leader when it comes to these policies.

    Recognizing the problems facing resource-dependent communities in both Oregon and other states, Senator Wyden pledged to work towards long-term permanent solutions and get these communities off the fiscal rollercoaster.

    Turning to energy exports, Senator Wyden detailed his concerns that before exporting any energy source we must "look before we leap." Ensuring that unfettered natural gas exports don't harm U.S. consumers and manufacturers is a top priority.

    In addition to finding the "sweet spot" between energy imports and exports, as Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Wyden is committed to looking for the smart balance between traditional and renewable sources. When striking this balance, the fact that climate change is real must be taken into consideration. As Senator Wyden remarked- "inaction on climate change is not an option."

    Read or watch Senator Wyden's remarks.

    Notable Tweets:

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    Tags:
    Coast
    Economy
    Energy
  • Wyden Attends 10th Annual Oregon Leadership Summit

    On December 3, Senator Wyden attended the 10th Annual Oregon Leadership Summit. Over 800 community and business leaders were also in attendance.

    Senator Wyden is credited with coming up with the idea for the Oregon Leadership Summit ten years ago-- an idea that grew out of the town hall meetings he holds in every Oregon county every year.

    “We knew this was going to be well received, but it far exceeded what we actually thought was possible,” said Senator Wyden to the Portland Business Journal about the Summit's 10th anniversary.

    At this year's Summit, Senator Wyden praised the Oregon Business Plan and its aim to create businesses and industry in Oregon that sustain local economies and communities. Senator Wyden also spoke of sustained economic growth on a national level.

    “So here’s my take on what has to be done in Washington, D.C.” said Senator Wyden. “We must stop patching the broken mess that creates problems like the fiscal cliff and start working on fresh reforms that will service as a launching pad for sustained economic growth.”

    Senator Wyden stressed that these fresh reforms must include: investing in transportation infrastructure, transparency in trade negotiations, cybersecurity policies that encourage innovation, and comprehensive tax reform. Importantly, since all this takes an educated workforce, students and workers should be able to apply a cost-benefit analysis to their education and training.

    Photo Album:

  • Wyden Letter to the Editor: China’s subsidy of solar panels

    (Note: this letter was originally published in the Washington Post on October 28, 2012)

    A federal investigation has proved that China is subsidizing its solar panels and dumping those panels in the U.S. market. The Oct. 19 editorial “A cloud on trade” said there’s a good reason to let China continue to do this. I disagree.

    World trade is governed by well-defined rules. Allowing China to break those rules at the whim of certain lobbying groups would turn the rules-based trading system into one based on politics. The world tried that system before. It failed. Under that system, trade was neither free nor fair, to the detriment of the United States and global economy.

    Failure to address China’s practices will undercut U.S. innovation. It will also make it more difficult for the United States to act against China’s cheating in other areas on everything from the manipulation of its currency to its export restraints on resources such as rare earth minerals.

    China has been clear that it is seeking to be a dominant provider of the world’s solar panels, and it is accomplishing this by breaking the rules. To accept these actions because it is helpful to consumers (for now) is to accept a world in which China chooses the industries it wishes to dominate and the

    United States is forced to take what’s left. How long after the last U.S. solar manufacturer has shut its doors will China wait to use its monopoly power to raise prices for U.S. consumers?

    Ron Wyden, Washington

    The writer, a Democrat from Oregon, is a member of the U.S. Senate.

  • IYCMI: Wyden Statement Introducing "Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act"

    U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade Customs and Global Competitiveness, introduced legislation clarifying USTR’s obligation to share information on trade agreements with Members of Congress. Legislation is necessitated by administration’s refusal to share information with Congress broadly, and specifically with Wyden’s office.

    Text of Statement of Introduction:

    STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD
    U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
    On Introduction of the “Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act”


    M. President, right now, the Obama Administration is in the process of negotiating what might prove to be the most far-reaching economic agreement since the World Trade Organization was established nearly twenty years ago.

    The goal of this agreement – known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – is to economically bind together the economies of the Asia Pacific.  It involves countries ranging from Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Peru, Chile and the United States and holds the potential to include many more countries, like Japan, Korea, Canada, and Mexico.  If successful, the agreement will set norms for the trade of goods and services and includes disciplines related to intellectual property, access to medicines, Internet governance, investment, government procurement, worker rights and environmental standards.    

    If agreed to, TPP will set the tone for our nation’s economic future for years to come, impacting the way Congress intervenes and acts on behalf of the American people it represents.  

    It may be the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) current job to negotiate trade agreements on behalf of the United States, but Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress – not the USTR or any other member of the Executive Branch – the responsibility of regulating foreign commerce.  It was our Founding Fathers’ intention to ensure that the laws and policies that govern the American people take into account the interests of all the American people, not just a privileged few.

    And yet, Mr. President, the majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations – like Halliburton, Chevron, PHRMA, Comcast, and the Motion Picture Association of America – are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement.  As the Office of the USTR will tell you, the President gives it broad power to keep information about the trade policies it advances and negotiates, secret.  Let me tell you, the USTR is making full use of this authority.

    As the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, my office is responsible for conducting oversight over the USTR and trade negotiations.  To do that, I asked that my staff obtain the proper security credentials to view the information that USTR keeps confidential and secret.  This is material that fully describes what the USTR is seeking in the TPP talks on behalf of the American people and on behalf of Congress.  More than two months after receiving the proper security credentials, my staff is still barred from viewing the details of the proposals that USTR is advancing.   

    M. President, we hear that the process by which TPP is being negotiated has been a model of transparency.  I disagree with that statement.  And not just because the Staff Director of the Senate subcommittee responsible for oversight of international trade continues to be denied access to substantive and detailed information that pertains to the TPP talks.  

    M. President, Congress passed legislation in 2002 to form the Congressional Oversight Group, or COG, to foster more USTR consultation with Congress.  I was a senator in 2002.  I voted for that law and I can tell you the intention of that law was to ensure that USTR consulted with more Members of Congress not less.  

    In trying to get to the bottom of why my staff is being denied information, it seems that some in the Executive Branch may be interpreting the law that established the COG to mean that only the few Members of Congress who belong to the COG can be given access to trade negotiation information, while every other Member of Congress, and their staff, must be denied such access. So, this is not just a question of whether or not cleared staff should have access to information about the TPP talks, this is a question of whether or not the administration believes that most Members of Congress can or should have a say in trade negotiations.

    Again, having voted for that law, I strongly disagree with such an interpretation and find it offensive that some would suggest that a law meant to foster more consultation with Congress is intended to limit it.  But given that the TPP negotiations are currently underway and I – and the vast majority of my colleagues and their staff – continue to be denied a full understanding of what the USTR is seeking in the agreement, we do not have time to waste on a protracted legal battle over this issue.  Therefore, I am introducing legislation to clarify the intent of the COG statute.  

    The legislation, I propose, is straightforward.  It gives all Members of Congress and staff with appropriate clearance access to the substance of trade negotiations.  Finally, Members of Congress who are responsible for conducting oversight over the enforcement of trade agreements will be provided information by the Executive Branch indicating whether our trading partners are living up to their trade obligations.  Put simply, this legislation would ensure that the representatives elected by the American people are afforded the same level of influence over our nation’s policies as the paid representatives of PHRMA, Halliburton and the Motion Picture Association.

    My intent is to do everything I can to see that this legislation is advanced quickly and becomes law, so that elected Members of Congress can do what the Constitution requires and what their constituents expect.

    I yield the floor.

    Wyden Statement Introduction of Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act

  • Trade Rules Matter

    Right now, the Obama administration and the International Trade Commission (ITC) are in the process of investigating complaints alleging that China is violating global trading rules to give their domestic solar-and wind-energy industries an advantage on the world market.
    The contention is that the Chinese government -- recognizing the growing global demand for renewable energy products -- has been giving its solar and wind energy producers enough money to price Chinese solar panels and wind turbines less than the rest of the world's solar panels and wind turbines. Their goal is to get the world's customers to stop buying the rest of the world's products and start buying from the Chinese.
    The Chinese Government has made no secret of its desire to become the world's leading producer of environmental goods and has even issued a series of economic plans laying out its strategy to "speed up the development and deployment of hydropower, wind power, solar energy and biomass energy," directing local authorities to "allocate the necessary funds to support renewable energy development."
    By all accounts, the Chinese Government's strategy is working. Today, my office is issuing a report showing that in just the last five years, China rose from playing a minor role in the global market for environmental goods to become the dominant actor in the world's biggest and fastest growing markets. Among other things, the report lays to rest arguments that the U.S. solar industry isn't losing out to China, showing that in just 2011, the U.S. went from a $2 billion trade surplus in solar energy products to a $1.5 billion deficit.
    Of course, some will undoubtedly say: "So what?" They'll argue that the Chinese Government can do what it wants, that we shouldn't start a trade war with China and that cheap solar panels are a good thing. And others will say this is just another example of why free trade isn't good for Americans.
    Let me respond:
    1. So what if China is helping its domestic industries charge less for solar panels and other environmental goods? Can't the U.S. do the same?
    If China is helping its domestic industries charge an artificially low price for solar panels and other environmental goods, then China is violating international trade rules that it agreed to when it became a member of the World Trade Organization. The global rules based trading system -- established after World War II and the Great Depression -- was designed to prevent trade wars by creating clear, enforceable standards for all of the world's participants. Its rules ensure that competition is based, not on the amount of assistance a government provides its industries, but on each industry's ability to innovate quality products and produce them efficiently.
    If China -- the world's second largest economy -- is violating trade rules to help its industries undercut the price of solar panels and other environmental goods, it changes the competition from a race to produce better products more efficiently to a competition to cheat better. Meanwhile, the global trading system breaks down and countries that play by the rules -- like the U.S -- suffer.
    2. But wouldn't enforcing trade laws with China start a trade war?
    Trade wars aren't started by countries appealing to respected, independent trade authorities. Rather, trade wars begin when one country decides to violate international trade rules to undercut another country's industries. In trade -- as in football or any other rules-based competition -- we hold the rule breaker accountable, not the coach who asks the referee for a review.
    If the U.S. Department of Commerce finds that China isn't breaking the rules, then no action will be taken. But if China is breaking trade rules to give its industries an unfair advantage, it's important that trade rules be enforced and tariffs be applied to negate that unfair advantage. Again, doing otherwise would undermine the integrity of the rules-based trading system.
    3. But won't fewer people install solar panels if we raise the cost of Chinese solar panels?
    This is a short-sighted argument. Yes, while U.S. manufacturers of solar panels are closing plants and laying off workers, U.S. solar panel installers are doing well by using the low-cost Chinese solar panels. However, if China successfully puts the rest of the world's solar manufacturers out of business, the Chinese government will stop subsidizing the price of solar panels and prices will go up.
    Moreover, if China successfully puts the rest of the world's solar industries out of business, the race to innovate better, more efficient and more affordable renewable energy technologies comes to a halt.
    4. Isn't this just another example of why trade is bad for Americans?
    No. This is an example of why unfair trade is bad for Americans. President Obama said it best during his state of the Union Address this year when he declared: "I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules."
    More than 90 percent of the world's customers live outside the United States. Ensuring that U.S. companies have a level playing field to compete for those customers is probably the single best way to grow U.S. businesses and create more good-paying U.S. jobs. But free trade does not mean trade free from rules, and failing to enforce trade rules not only fails to ensure that level playing field, it leaves U.S. industries at the mercy of countries that break the rules.
    President Obama was right to make enforcement of those trade rules a priority and his creation, today, of a Trade Enforcement Unit is a massive step in the right direction. But as my office's report shows, we need to act quickly because it doesn't take long to lose to China.(Note: This blog was originally posted by Senator Wyden on Huffington Post.)

    (Note: This blog was originally posted by Senator Wyden on Huffington Post.)

    Right now, the Obama administration and the International Trade Commission (ITC) are in the process of investigating complaints alleging that China is violating global trading rules to give their domestic solar-and wind-energy industries an advantage on the world market.

    The contention is that the Chinese government -- recognizing the growing global demand for renewable energy products -- has been giving its solar and wind energy producers enough money to price Chinese solar panels and wind turbines less than the rest of the world's solar panels and wind turbines. Their goal is to get the world's customers to stop buying the rest of the world's products and start buying from the Chinese.

    The Chinese Government has made no secret of its desire to become the world's leading producer of environmental goods and has even issued a series of economic plans laying out its strategy to "speed up the development and deployment of hydropower, wind power, solar energy and biomass energy," directing local authorities to "allocate the necessary funds to support renewable energy development."

    By all accounts, the Chinese Government's strategy is working. Today, my office is issuing a report showing that in just the last five years, China rose from playing a minor role in the global market for environmental goods to become the dominant actor in the world's biggest and fastest growing markets. Among other things, the report lays to rest arguments that the U.S. solar industry isn't losing out to China, showing that in just 2011, the U.S. went from a $2 billion trade surplus in solar energy products to a $1.5 billion deficit.

    Of course, some will undoubtedly say: "So what?" They'll argue that the Chinese Government can do what it wants, that we shouldn't start a trade war with China and that cheap solar panels are a good thing. And others will say this is just another example of why free trade isn't good for Americans.

    Let me respond:

    1. So what if China is helping its domestic industries charge less for solar panels and other environmental goods? Can't the U.S. do the same?

    If China is helping its domestic industries charge an artificially low price for solar panels and other environmental goods, then China is violating international trade rules that it agreed to when it became a member of the World Trade Organization. The global rules based trading system -- established after World War II and the Great Depression -- was designed to prevent trade wars by creating clear, enforceable standards for all of the world's participants. Its rules ensure that competition is based, not on the amount of assistance a government provides its industries, but on each industry's ability to innovate quality products and produce them efficiently.

    If China -- the world's second largest economy -- is violating trade rules to help its industries undercut the price of solar panels and other environmental goods, it changes the competition from a race to produce better products more efficiently to a competition to cheat better. Meanwhile, the global trading system breaks down and countries that play by the rules -- like the U.S -- suffer.

    2. But wouldn't enforcing trade laws with China start a trade war?

    Trade wars aren't started by countries appealing to respected, independent trade authorities. Rather, trade wars begin when one country decides to violate international trade rules to undercut another country's industries. In trade -- as in football or any other rules-based competition -- we hold the rule breaker accountable, not the coach who asks the referee for a review.

    If the U.S. Department of Commerce finds that China isn't breaking the rules, then no action will be taken. But if China is breaking trade rules to give its industries an unfair advantage, it's important that trade rules be enforced and tariffs be applied to negate that unfair advantage. Again, doing otherwise would undermine the integrity of the rules-based trading system.

    3. But won't fewer people install solar panels if we raise the cost of Chinese solar panels?

    This is a short-sighted argument. Yes, while U.S. manufacturers of solar panels are closing plants and laying off workers, U.S. solar panel installers are doing well by using the low-cost Chinese solar panels. However, if China successfully puts the rest of the world's solar manufacturers out of business, the Chinese government will stop subsidizing the price of solar panels and prices will go up.

    Moreover, if China successfully puts the rest of the world's solar industries out of business, the race to innovate better, more efficient and more affordable renewable energy technologies comes to a halt.

    4. Isn't this just another example of why trade is bad for Americans?

    No. This is an example of why unfair trade is bad for Americans. President Obama said it best during his state of the Union Address this year when he declared: "I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don't play by the rules."

    More than 90 percent of the world's customers live outside the United States. Ensuring that U.S. companies have a level playing field to compete for those customers is probably the single best way to grow U.S. businesses and create more good-paying U.S. jobs. But free trade does not mean trade free from rules, and failing to enforce trade rules not only fails to ensure that level playing field, it leaves U.S. industries at the mercy of countries that break the rules.

    President Obama was right to make enforcement of those trade rules a priority and his creation, today, of a Trade Enforcement Unit is a massive step in the right direction. But as my office's report shows, we need to act quickly because it doesn't take long to lose to China.

    Wyden Staff Report: Losing the Environmental Goods Economy to China