WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama says China is creating “an unfair playing field” by imposing excessive duties on exports of American automobiles. The president spoke during a campaign visit to a city where many residents work at an automobile factory.
Obama went to Toledo, Ohio, Thursday, hours after his administration requested consultations at the World Trade Organization. The U.S. is accusing China of unfairly slapping more than $3 billion in duties on American-made vehicles.
“That is why my administration brought trade cases against China at a faster pace than the previous administration, and we won those cases," the president said. "Just this morning, my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers.”
Several thousand people in the Toledo area work at factories where Jeep trucks are built.
The president’s visit was the first of several campaign stops on a two-day bus tour through the manufacturing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, which many experts believe could be pivotal in the November election.
“Americans and American workers build better products than anybody else," said Obama. "So as long as we are competing on a fair playing field instead of an unfair playing field, we will do just fine. But we are going to make sure that competition is fair.”
Obama’s likely Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, has accused the president of being too soft on China on trade practices and other issues.
Republican Tim Pawlenty, former governor of the state of Minnesota, campaigned for Romney in Ohio on Thursday. He said the president has broken his promise to get tough with China on trade.
The president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said Thursday the Obama administration has been successful in all six previous challenges to Chinese duties on American products, ranging from steel to chicken.
On the campaign trail, Obama is portraying himself as more of an advocate for working-class Americans than Romney, who was a wealthy businessman before entering politics.
Romney says his business experience will help him create jobs as president.
Obama’s bus tour concludes Friday as the U.S. unemployment figures for June are released.
The president said Thursday this year’s election will set the course of the nation’s economy for the next decade and beyond.