Obama knocks China trade policy and takes shot at Romney on campaign tour
By Jeff Mason ,Reuters
July 7, 2012, 12:14 am TWN
MAUMEE, Ohio -- U.S. President Barack Obama took a shot at China and Republican rival Mitt Romney on Thursday, complaining to the World Trade Organization that Beijing is abusing trade laws by imposing more than US$3 billion in duties on U.S. automobile exports.
"Americans aren't afraid to compete," Obama told an enthusiastic crowd in this northern Ohio city hours after his administration filed the complaint with the WTO.
"As long as we're competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we're going to do just fine. We're going to make sure that competition is fair."
The Democratic president's speech kicked off a two-day campaign bus tour aimed largely at blue-collar workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, crucial battleground states in the Nov. 6 presidential election.
The complaint to the WTO seemed directed particularly at Ohio, home to thousands of auto-supply workers, many of whom have jobs likely saved by the U.S. government's US$80 billion bailout of the industry Obama supported and Romney opposed.
It was also a counterpunch to Romney's claims that Obama has not been tough enough on China's trade policies, and gave Obama's campaign another way to remind voters of its efforts to tie Romney's work as a private equity executive to the outsourcing of American jobs to China.
The WTO in Geneva confirmed it had received the complaint from the United States, the nation's third such challenge to China following action against duties imposed by Beijing on the exports of certain U.S. steel and chicken products.