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U.S. lawmakers to press Obama on China auto parts

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Midwestern lawmakers and groups from the U.S. auto parts sector plan on Tuesday to urge President Barack Obama to take action to restrict imports of auto parts from China, a U.S. industry official said.

"I think all of us will be urging the administration to initiate a case or multiple cases," Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which is holding a press conference on Tuesday with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and other lawmakers.

The event comes one week after Obama said his administration was launching a new initiative to crack down on unfair foreign trade practices in China and other countries around the world.

Obama, who has been criticized by some Republican presidential candidates for not being tough enough on Beijing, will host China's Vice President Xi Jinping, on February 14 at the White House. Xi is expected to become China's next leader.

Beijing angered Washington in December with a decision to impose punitive duties of up to 22 percent on large cars and SUVs from the United States, a move that many saw as retaliation for earlier U.S. moves to restrict imports of Chinese goods ranging from tires to poultry.

The Obama administration is considering whether to slap anti-dumping and countervailing duties on solar panels and wind energy towers from China in response to U.S. industry allegations of unfair trading practices.

Paul said U.S. groups and lawmakers will present data on Tuesday showing that U.S. auto parts imports from China "have surged by almost 900 percent since 2001," due in part to massive Chinese government subsidies.

"This begs for a trade action," Paul said, adding that it could include both a case at the World Trade Organization and a U.S. Commerce Department investigation leading to anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Chinese auto parts.

The studies will show how Chinese imports have contributed to a loss of more than 400,000 in the U.S. auto supply chain since 2000 and have put another 1.6 million jobs at risk, another source familiar with the material said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Neil Stempleman and Paul Simao)

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