Washington, D.C. – Today, as the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission hold a hearing in Rochester on the “Impact of Trade with China on New York State and Opportunities for Economic Growth,” U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand submitted testimony urging to protect New York jobs and industries. Senator Gillibrand called on the Commission to develop strong policies that ensure a fair playing field for American businesses and workers.
In her testimony, Senator Gillibrand wrote, “The relationship between the United States and China is one of growing cooperation and interdependence, resulting in increased opportunities and challenges for both our countries. China is the second largest U.S. trading partner and our largest source of imports. In 2008, trade with China accounted for about 12 percent of total U.S. global trade. The magnitude of U.S.–China economic ties underscores the need to develop strong policies that ensure a fair playing field for U.S. businesses and workers, some of the most talented of whom live and work in and around Rochester, New York.”
According to a recent study by the Rochester Institute of Technology, competition with China has been highly influenced by a strong and well financed industrial policy that offers an unfair advantage to Chinese companies in addition to favorable currency valuation to their products. Upstate New York companies have experienced major challenges due to major initiatives from China to enter markets and encourage U.S. companies use Chinese suppliers or locate operations in China. In addition, Upstate New York companies have been affected by many of their customers establishing supply bases in China and other parts of the world.
Today, Senator Gillibrand’s emphasized the need to protect Upstate New York jobs. Increased imports from China are taking its toll on New York’s manufacturing jobs and industries. In fact between 2001 and 2008, New York State lost over 160,000 manufacturing jobs, more than 26,000 of which were from the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region.
Rochester manufacturers like Pro-Mold, Inc. are feeling first-hand the impact of importing more from China. Pro-Mold, a plastics manufacturer, has been forced to cut nearly half of its workforce as a direct result of Chinese manufacturers receiving government subsidies to produce the same goods at a fraction of the cost.
Just last month, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that China’s largest tire maker was guilty of illegally dumping tires, which injured domestic tire industry workers, including workers in Western New York. Over the last four years, tire imports from China have increased by more than 200 percent in volume and close to 300 percent in value. This dramatic increase in imports – close to 46 million tires – has disrupted the market for many of our domestic tire manufacturers, affecting jobs in New York and across the country.
Senator Gillibrand also expressed concerns many New Yorkers share over the devaluation of China’s currency – putting New York manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. China has made efforts recently to increase the flexibility of its currency and reduce its relative undervaluation against the U.S. Dollar. Senator Gillibrand believes that China should take further steps to ensure their currency reflects a fair and accurate valuation.
Senator Gillibrand is working with her colleagues in Congress and the Administration on a comprehensive approach to address the effects that Chinese trade and its currency exchange rate have on the Upstate New York economy.