PITTSBURGH, April 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Democratic Presidential Candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vowed to hold China and other offending countries accountable for unfair trade practices that disadvantage U.S. workers and manufacturers at a candidate forum this morning in Pittsburgh. Senator John McCain was invited but unable to attend. The forum was sponsored by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), a non-partisan, non-profit labor-management coalition of the United Steelworkers and the nation's leading manufacturers forged to strengthen manufacturing in America. "Today, voters demanded that their presidential candidates get tough on China," said AAM Executive Director Scott Paul. "And while the candidates at today's forum made strong commitments on trade, we must ensure that their promises become policies that enforce our laws against unfair trade and defend our workers and domestic industries." The candidates appeared separately. Each spoke for 20 minutes on trade and manufacturing issues before fielding several questions from the diverse audience of over 1,600 union workers, manufacturers, and local elected officials. AAM principals and partners also addressed the crowd, including United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, United States Steel Corporation Senior Vice President Terrence Straub, Allegheny Technologies Chief Executive Patrick Hassey and AK Steel Chief Executive Jim Wainscott. "China must stop manipulating its currency because it's not fair to American manufacturers, it's not fair to you, and we are going to change it when I am President," said Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) in his remarks to forum attendees, where he also criticized trade agreements like NAFTA. He pledged to "fight for manufacturing, modernize the steel industry, strengthen our manufacturing base, and have a manufacturing policy to open as many markets as we can for American workers." "I'm calling for changing our laws to send China a message," said Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who outlined her trade agenda to the audience and highlighted national security concerns related to unfair trade. "If you subsidize your exports and hurt our manufacturers, you'll pay a price." She argued that "you cannot be a strong nation without a strong manufacturing sector." The candidate forum is part of a larger effort by AAM to highlight the impact that China's unfair trade practices have had on American workers and manufacturers. AAM has called for stronger enforcement of U.S. trade law and last week launched a statewide advertisement and grassroots campaign entitled, "China Cheats. Pennsylvania Loses." A PDF of the ad is posted at: http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/a am_pennsylvania_032708a.pdf AAM Executive Director Scott Paul applauded the candidates for their willingness to engage on the issues before a largely Pennsylvania audience one week before that state's Democratic primary election. "Senators Obama and Clinton faced an audience who believe that jobs and manufacturing issues are at the heart of this election and they were gratefully received." AAM has also launched CandidateWatch (http://candidatewatch.manufacturethis.org/), a website that tracks what the Presidential candidates are saying, or not saying, about their plans to stop China from cheating on trade agreements. THE FACTS: The damaging effects of unfair trade are clear across the state. AAM's analysis of Economic Policy Institute data found that Pennsylvania lost 78,200 jobs from 2001-2006 (all sectors) as a result of the U.S. trade deficit with China [source: EPI, 'Costly Trade with China'], for an average of 15,640 lost jobs per year. Using an identical analysis, AAM found that Pennsylvania lost 44,173 jobs from 1993-2004 (all sectors) as a result of NAFTA, for an average of 4,016 jobs lost per year [source: EPI, 'Revisiting NAFTA']. "If the presidential candidates want to save Pennsylvania jobs, they should commit to fighting China's illegal trade practices such as dumping, subsidies, and currency manipulation," said Paul, noting that the U.S. racked up record annual trade deficits in 2007 with both China ($256 billion) and its NAFTA partners ($138 billion). "We can no longer allow China to chip away at the foundation of America." A state-by-state breakout of U.S. jobs lost to China is available at: http://www.americanmanufacturing.org/inyourstate/ TEXT OF AD: China Cheats. Pennsylvania Loses. Demand that the candidates put a stop to the cheating by enforcing our laws against unfair trade. Pennsylvania has lost 207,400 manufacturing jobs since 2000. Why? Because too many in Washington are unwilling to enforce our laws against unfair trade, allowing countries like China to cheat, and putting U.S. workers and manufacturers at a disadvantage. Want proof? Our soaring $256 billion annual trade deficit with China has cost Pennsylvania alone more than 78,000 jobs and more than 1.8 million jobs nationwide. We need a President and a Congress who will stand up to China. Until then, China will continue to illegally subsidize their industries, keep the value of their currency low, dump their products in the U.S. and steal our jobs. Don't let them get away with it. ABOUT AAM The non-partisan, non-profit Alliance for American Manufacturing is a labor-management partnership between the United Steelworkers and major manufacturers, including Pennsylvania-based United States Steel Corporation and Allegheny Technologies.
SOURCE Alliance for American Manufacturing