WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers said Wednesday they would introduce a bill to repeal China’s permanent normal trade relations status — the latest salvo aimed at China’s alleged unfair trade practices.

Congress granted China the trade status five years ago as a needed step for China to join the World Trade Organization. It gives Chinese exports the same lower U.S. tariff rates and other trade privileges as countries with market economies.

Sponsors of the bill pointed to the loss of approximately 2.7 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. since the trade relations measure passed and the U.S.’s mounting $150 billion trade deficit with China as justification for revoking the status.

“The word has got to go out loud and clear to companies like Wal-Mart, GE, GM, IBM, Microsoft, Boeing, Flextronics, Cisco, Sears…Hewlett-Packard, Intel and hundreds of other corporations…that they cannot keep sending America’s future to China,” Rep. Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont and a co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement. The bill also has Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.

However, anti-China trade bills aren’t expected to garner all that much traction in Congress because the policy of the Bush administration has been to negotiate with the Chinese instead of imposing sanctions. Republican congressional leaders, who control House and Senate agendas, back the President’s approach.

China has been in the sights of some lawmakers who charge that it is involved in trade transgressions. Many of them say China undervalues its yuan by pegging the currency to the dollar, lowering the cost of exports. China has also been cited for subsidizing exporting companies, such as giving loans to some firms that aren’t based on performance.

Other recent China measures with bipartisan sponsorship have called for 27.5 percent tariffs on all Chinese manufactured goods imported into the U.S. until China revalues its currency, and a bill that would allow the U.S. to levy punitive tariffs, called countervailing duties, on imports from nonmarket economies when industries are subsidized by the government.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.