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Timothy Brightbill Testifies at House Subcommittee Hearing on Unfair Trade Practices

May 22, 2014

Timothy C. Brightbill, a partner in Wiley Rein’s International Trade Practice, testified today at a U.S. House Small Business subcommittee hearing on unfair trade practices by foreign companies.  Small businesses face “enormous challenges” in this area, said Mr. Brightbill, who has represented domestic manufacturers of products ranging from steel to solar panels to school notebooks to heavy forged hand tools.

Domestic small businesses often are unable to become substantial exporters of goods and services, because “trade laws and regulations are complicated, trade remedy cases are expensive, and trade barriers are becoming more pervasive and more challenging all the time,” Mr. Brightbill told the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade.

For example, foreign competitors—many of which are owned or subsidized by foreign governments—often sell below cost to enter the U.S. market, forcing domestic businesses to either cut prices or give up market share.  Currency manipulation and “pervasive” intellectual property (IP) theft are among other unfair trade practices that harm U.S. exporters, he said.

He also discussed criminal charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice this week against five members of the Chinese military, on allegations that they hacked several U.S. businesses to steal trade secrets.  “The U.S. companies named as victims in this week’s indictments are at the heart of American manufacturing of steel, aluminum, solar, and others,” Mr. Brightbill said.

“I applaud the Administration for taking this step,” he added.  “But the reality is that the Chinese government sees no difference between military espionage and corporate IP and trade secret theft.  And there are thousands of U.S. companies that are victims of these activities.”

Mr. Brightbill also called on Congress to address trade fraud, evasion, and circumvention through passage of the ENFORCE Act, and advocated for “strong, enforceable disciplines on state-owned enterprises in all new free trade agreements,” including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

Mr. Brightbill’s prepared testimony can be found here.  The hearing can be viewed here.