WASHINGTON — The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Friday rejected an unfair trade practices case against alleged workers’ rights abuses in China filed by the AFL-CIO and two lawmakers.

“A Section 301 investigation [for which the petitioners filed] will neither shed more light on this problem nor lead to a more effective approach for addressing Chinese workers’ rights and labor conditions,” a USTR spokesman said in a statement.

The spokesman acknowledged there is “much room for improvement” in the area of China’s labor laws and noted the U.S. would continue to apply pressure to improve labor rights and working conditions. He said China has made progress, citing rising wage rates and “enhanced labor inspections as a result of U.S. engagement.”

The AFL-CIO, along with Reps. Benjamin Cardin (D., Md.) and Christopher Smith (R., N.J.) filed the petition last month under the Trade Act of 1974, alleging that China represses workers’ rights, which drives down wages and lowers the price of exports. The petition called on the administration to impose trade sanctions on China that would decrease with improvements in labor standards.

This story first appeared in the July 24, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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