They have asked the Obama administration to consider either filing a WTO case against alleged Chinese government subsidies or to launch a Commerce Department investigation that could lead to U.S. anti-dumping or countervailing duties on a variety of Chinese auto parts.
That was followed by a letter from 188 members of Congress, including many from Midwest industrial states like Ohio and Michigan, which are expected to be important in Obama's bid to win re-election in November.
The lawmakers accused China of using "a vast array of policies" to give its auto parts producers an unfair trade advantage. They said it was critical the United States act quickly because auto parts manufacturers account for 75 percent of jobs in the U.S. automotive sectors.
"As we look at these matters, we can not talk a lot about them," Reif said when asked about the status of the request. "But we are certainly looking at that. We are looking at matters that involve automobiles as well."
Reif insisted the timing of any action on the automotive front against China would be based on a "careful examination of the facts," and not a desire to win votes for Obama.
"As you know these cases involve easily months, oftentimes years of preparation. So when you see us file a request for consultations (at the WTO), that is not something we ginned up in the last week or two, or month or two," Reif said.