The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has applauded passage of a measure that would set sufficient funding levels for trade enforcement activities conducted by the International Trade Administration (ITA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance (E&C) to ensure adequate resources to combat unfair trade practices.

The US House of Representatives has passed an amendment, introduced by the leaders of the Congressional Steel Caucus, Representatives Mike Bost (R-IL), Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Rick Crawford (R-AR), and others, to the FY2021 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (CJS), which would set minimum funding levels for trade enforcement activities at the E&C office. The office is part of the Department of Commerce and conducts anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations to determine if imports are being dumped or subsidised. It also enforces trade laws against foreign importers seeking to circumvent trade remedy orders. The AISI had strongly advocated for passage of the amendment, including writing a letter late last week to congressmen with steel facilities in their states or districts.

In urging members of Congress to vote for the amendment, AISI interim president and CEO, Kevin Dempsey, commented, “In the first nine months of the fiscal year, the Commerce Department has received approximately 100 AD/CVD petitions alleging unfair trade practices, which is a record. Setting a minimum funding level for enforcement activities to address allegations of unfair trade practices is critical to ensuring thorough and expeditious investigations and putting practical trade remedies in place to keep Americans employed.”

At the same time, The Coalition of American Chassis Manufacturers filed petitions charging that unfairly traded imports of chassis from China are materially injuring the American container chassis industry. The petitions show that the state-supported Chinese industry is selling container chassis in the United States at less than fair value, dumped at rates up to 211.49%, distorting the US market and resulting in the loss of significant manufacturing jobs in the USA.

The filing was made concurrently with the US Department of Commerce and the US International Trade Commission (USITC), in response to large and increasing volumes of unfairly priced Chinese chassis imports since 2017 that have injured American producers. The petition concerns the actions of CIMC, a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE) used by the Government of China to transfer manufacturing jobs out of the USA into China through subsidies, including tax breaks and discounted raw materials, and other unfair tactics. CIMC is one of the primary SOEs used by the Chinese government to implement its 'One Belt, One Road' state planning programme and serves as an outlet for subsidised Chinese steel and other components.

“The action today seeks to put an end to the Government of China’s unfair practices that have led to its dominance of the U.S. chassis market,” said Robert Wahlin, President and CEO of Stoughton Trailers, a member of the Coalition. “U.S. chassis manufacturers look forward to leveling the playing field so as to compete fairly. The Coalition is optimistic that, following affirmative preliminary determinations by both the U.S. International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce, duties will begin to be collected by as early as the end of this year.”

“We are proud to be part of a coalition that wants to stand up for American manufacturing and American labor to fight off the Government of China’s efforts to take our jobs, said Frank Katz, Chairman of Coalition member Cheetah Chassis Corporation. “For years, our companies have lost massive amounts of sales to unfairly traded, dumped, and subsidized imports from China, and our people have suffered as a result. It’s time to stand up for American manufacturing to take on these illegally traded Chinese products.”

As a result of dumped and subsidized imports from China, U.S. producers have suffered significant declines in production, shipments, profits, and employment. Coalition members have underutilized manufacturing capacity and idled employees in states across the heartland of America. “Dumped and subsidized imports of chassis from China have injured the U.S. industry and its workers,” said Robert E. DeFrancesco, III, partner in Wiley’s International Trade Practice and counsel to the petitioners. “We urge Commerce and the USITC to thoroughly investigate these unfair trade practices and effectively apply the trade laws to dumped and subsidized chassis from China.”