Business, Freight News, People, Sea

Unions Seek China Shipbuilding Probe

[ March 22, 2024   //   ]

Five labor unions have petitioned U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to request a probe of China’s acts, policies and practices “in the maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sector,” according to a statement.
The unions are: United Steelworkers (USW), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO (MTD).
“We have seen the PRC create dependencies and vulnerabilities in multiple sectors, like steel, aluminum, solar, batteries, and critical minerals, harming American workers and businesses and creating real risks for our supply chains,” Tai said in a statement.
The U.S. commercial shipbuilding industry “is a shell of its former self,” as China dominates the maritime, logistics and shipbuilding sector through “unreasonable and discriminatory acts, policies and practices,” the unions said in their 134-page petition under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Section 301 exists to empower the administration to respond predatory and destructive foreign government practices, and to support domestic industries and workers harmed by these acts.
In 1975, the U.S. commercial shipbuilding industry had more than 70 commercial ships on order, employed 180,000 workers and led the world in terms of shipbuilding capacity. “Nearly 50 years later, the number commercial shipyards in the U.S. has plunged by more than 70 percent, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and the U.S. now produces only a fraction of 1 percent of the world’s commercial vessels, falling to 19th place,” the petition said.
China’s efforts to dominate the shipbuilding, maritime and logistics sector “is built on non-market policies that are far more aggressive and interventionist than any other country. As a result, China has seized market share, suppressed prices and created a worldwide network of ports and logistics infrastructure that threaten to discriminate against U.S. ships and shipping companies, disrupt supply chains and undermine national security interests,” the unions maintain.
The petition also raised concerns about Chinese software platform Logink that provides data on global supply chain logistics. The petition alleged the Chinese government-supported platform raised national security concerns.
The unions urged the Biden administration to impose port fees on Chinese-built vessels, with proceeds to create a fund to revitalize U.S. shipbuilding.
The USTR has 45 days from receipt of the petition to determine whether to initiate an investigation.

Katherine Tai, U.S. trade Representative

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