WASHINGTON, D.C.— With negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) set to begin tomorrow in Dallas, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) are urging the Administration to stand up for critical glassware jobs in Toledo and Lancaster. Today, Brown and Portman sent a letter, which was also signed by nine of their Senate and House colleagues, urging United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk to continue to support American glass jobs by maintaining tariffs on imported glassware products. The products of the domestic glassware production sector—including glass tableware, glass stoppers, glass lamps, and glass lighting fittings—have been placed in the category of import sensitive products for more than 30 years. Such items are manufactured at Libbey, Inc. in Toledo, and Anchor Hocking in Lancaster.
“Ohio is famous for its finely-made glassware. Both Libbey and Anchor Hocking are household names—and it’s the quality of these products that helped give Toledo its nickname of ‘the Glass City,’” Brown said. “As Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations continue, we must put American jobs and industries first. Our glassmakers can compete with anyone in the world, but could be seriously undermined by imports from countries seeking to join the TPP. That’s why it’s so critical that the U.S. Trade Representative maintain glassware as an import-sensitive product and enforce existing tariffs to protect Ohio jobs and businesses.”
During ongoing TPP negotiations, Brown has repeatedly called on the Obama Administration to enact protections for American jobs and businesses. In October 2011, he sent a letter urging the President to change course in trade policy and rewrite trade rules to put Ohio jobs and Ohio workers first. The letter also requested specific benchmarks on jobs as the U.S.-Korea agreement is implemented and called for a fundamental reorientation of U.S. trade policy. In November, as Japan announced its intent to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Brown sent another letter to President Obama raising concerns over the existing automotive trade deficit with Japan and seeking more support for American manufacturing in the TPP.
The full text of the letter is below. In addition to Brown and Portman, the letter was signed by Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Mary Landrieu (-D-LA), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), along with Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Steve Austria (R-OH), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Mark Critz (D-PA), and John Fleming (R-LA).
Ambassador Ron Kirk
United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20508
Dear Ambassador Kirk:
We are writing to you concerning the rules of origin that will determine the eligibility of products for preferential tariff treatment in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. We urge your continued support for the domestic glass tableware industry’s import sensitive treatment. This issue is of crucial importance to workers in a number of states including Ohio, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania. The products of the domestic glassware production sector have been placed in the category of import sensitive products for more than 30 years. This treatment, and the tariffs that are in place, recognize the sensitivity of the sector and continue to be necessary. Now is not the time to deviate from treating the products of this sector in this manner particularly when our states urgently need more job growth.
Libbey, Inc. has U.S. glassware manufacturing locations in Toledo, Ohio and Shreveport, Louisiana. It has filed timely detailed comments with your office regarding TPP rules of origin for Glass Tableware (HTS 7013), Glass Stoppers (HTS 7010.20), and Glass Lamps and Lighting Fittings (HTS 9405) that should guide your negotiators in their activities. These concerns are shared by Anchor Hocking Co., which employs 1,600 workers in Lancaster, Ohio and Monaca, Pennsylvania.
We join in urging that the TPP preferential rules of origin for the listed glassware products should be objective, transparent, predictable, and effective in limiting preferential tariff treatment only for goods that are formed, finished, and packaged in TPP countries. The TPP market access negotiations should account for the import-sensitivity of these products. The TPP should be a force for progress that maximizes production and employment opportunities in the signatory countries while recognizing the specific trade posture of individual industries.
We look forward to working with you on this issue of importance to American workers in a highly labor-intensive sector.