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To Deter China, the US Must Lead in Latin America

In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s rapid and threatening economic expansion across the globe, the United States must be proactively leading global engagement and securing trade agreements with our allies. China is taking advantage of the Biden administration’s inaction on trade partnerships, and it’s crucial that we stabilize relationships with our allies to win the trade war we’re currently losing.

Within the first five months in Congress, I went on a trip to China where I immediately recognized the need for the United States to be aggressive and pragmatic on trade policy. This prompted me to seek a seat on Ways and Means and join the Trade Subcommittee. Since I’ve been on the committee in 2021, trade has been a top priority. 

In March, I was part of a bipartisan Ways and Means delegation to several Latin American countries who want to engage in free trade agreements. While I was encouraged by our shared commitment to promote democracy and advance our partnership, it was troubling to hear how China’s growing influence in the region is causing challenges for the partnership with America.

For example, in the beginning of 2023, China signed a $1 billion trade deal with Ecuador, giving a massive amount of funds through a debt-restructuring agreement. China has become Ecuador’s largest market for non-oil exports. Ecuador is now a part of the growing list of Latin American nations that are developing a dependency on the Chinese Communist Party. 

This should terrify the western world. 

As China holds emerging economies captive by incurring their debt and tethering them to Chinese markets, the United States should be strategically engaged with our allies to reinforce our alliances and partnerships. For too long, the Biden administration has held meaningless photo ops and empty talk, rather than acting against China. They have failed to initiate trading partnerships with democracies in Latin America, whose citizens share our American priorities of creating jobs, defending human rights, and promoting fair trade. One way Congress could force Biden’s hand is by strategically reauthorizing core trade programs, like Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which were designed to improve our trade relationship with still developing allies and provide American consumers and businesses with access to better, cheaper products. 

Many nations in the southern hemisphere want to engage in trade negotiations with the United States, but they are forced to enter partnerships with China because Joe Biden refuses to make trade a priority. The Biden administration’s misguided green agenda and symbolic gestures like the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) stifle opportunities for the U.S. to promote jobs and get China to play by the rules. Washington Democrats wasted years on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee by holding aimless hearings on their woke agenda, instead of defending American jobs, cutting taxes, and building international relationships. Now that Republicans control the Committee, we are actively identifying the Chinese threat on our nation and forcing the Biden administration to engage on trade deals and acknowledge our failing partnerships across the globe.

Last month, the Ways and Means Committee held hearings on countering China’s trade and investment agenda and revising the U.S. tax code to stop us from subsidizing the Chinese Communist Party. In these hearings, I pressed witnesses on trade agreements that hurt American workers, businesses, and exports, as well as on the pivotal role Latin America can play in countering China’s trade and investment agenda. I will continue to fight alongside my Republican colleagues against the Biden administration’s pause on solar panel tariffs that allow China to circumvent American trade laws and expand its predatory trade practices. Energy manufacturing should be brought back to America, and we must stop accepting slave labor-made electric vehicle parts from the Chinese Communist Party.

Recently, I reintroduced the MADE (Manufacturing API, Drugs, and Experiments) in America Act with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to secure American jobs and bolster medical supply chains. In the pharmaceutical industry, unfettered trade with China must be addressed as the national security threat that it is. It is essential to strategically target industries that are essential to the wellbeing and national security of my constituents. I am eager to continue my work on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and on various congressional delegations visiting our partners to put America back in the driver’s seat on jobs and national security.

There is broad consensus that China is a threat to the American way of life. But there needs to be more than agreement, we need action. It’s time for the United States to lead in trade agreements with Latin America, but also to solidify our partnerships around the globe. 

Carol Miller represents West Virginia’s 1st District and is a member of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee.

Source : The Hill