Antidumping Coalition Calls for Government Action

Senate hearing prompts call for congressional action to help combat widespread duty evasion and weak enforcement of U.S. trade laws.

The Coalition to Enforce Antidumping & Countervailing Duty Orders (the "Coalition") has issued a letter thanking the Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, its Chairman, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and its Ranking Member, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), for the May 5, 2011 hearing "Enforcing America's Trade Laws in the Face of Customs Fraud and Duty Evasion."

The hearing examined inadequate enforcement of antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Department of Commerce (DOC), and the challenges of widespread evasion of lawfully-owed duties by some foreign producers and importers.

After opening remarks by Senators Wyden, Thune and John Rockefeller (D-WV), three groups of witnesses testified at the hearing: a panel of Senators; a panel of executives and representatives from a few of the affected industries, and a panel of officials from CBP, ICE and DOC.

In his prepared remarks, Sen. Wyden noted his committee's role in promoting trade laws and policies that give American businesses and workers the best opportunity to compete globally, but emphasized that "it is not enough to just pass these laws, they need to be enforced. Duties aren't going to work unless they are actually assessed and collected."

Sen. Wyden highlighted investigative efforts by subcommittee staff, who easily identified numerous Chinese suppliers openly advertising evasion schemes and agreeing to falsify documents or transship products through third-party countries to evade duties imposed on imports.

"All of this is taking place under the very sleepy eyes of U.S. Customs and Border Protection," the Senator charged. "While agencies are dragging their feet to enforce our trade laws, this country's domestic manufacturers are being hammered by foreign trade cheats."

Ranking Member John Thune (R-SD) noted that South Dakota has seen first-hand the impact of Customs' inability to fully enforce the existing antidumping duty on Chinese honey. He observed that while international trade issues can sometimes become divisive, "we should all be able to agree on the principle that U.S. trade laws should be enforced as effectively as possible, regardless of how we view broader trade issues."

In a reflection of the bipartisan support this issue has generated in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) testified in support of legislation to improve enforcement and combat evasion of duties. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) submitted a separate statement of support and testimony for the record.

"We applaud the hard work and diligent efforts of Sen. Wyden and other members of the Subcommittee to shine a bipartisan spotlight on this important trade issue," said Karl G. Glassman, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Leggett & Platt, Incorporated, and spokesperson for the Coalition.

"We support and encourage this Committee to move forward promptly with meaningful, effective legislation to make sure the trade cheats cannot continue to, in Sen. Wyden's words, '... cheat American taxpayers out of the revenue that is supposed to be collected on imports ... and cheat American producers out of business that may otherwise be theirs.' This problem needs to be addressed and fixed now, before more jobs and revenue are lost."

In addition to Mr. Glassman, the Industry panel included representatives from Northwest Pipe Company (OR); Adee Honey Farms (SD) and the American Honey Makers Association; and the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws.

At the hearing, Chairman Wyden announced his specific intention to address any questions concerning improving enforcement of these trade orders, in order to introduce a new version of the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Circumvention and Evasion (ENFORCE) Act of 2010 to Congress in the very near future. Both industry and government witnesses committed to working together to resolve any differences in approach or language that may exist.

The Coalition to Enforce Antidumping & Countervailing Duty Orders consists of the following companies and industry associations: M&B Metal Products (Leeds, Alabama), Vulcan Threaded Products (Pelham, Alabama), Leggett & Platt, Incorporated (Carthage, Missouri), Southern Shrimp Alliance (Tarpon Springs, Florida) Mid Continent Nail Corporation (Poplar Bluff, Missouri), American Spring Wire Company (Bedford Heights, Ohio), Insteel Industries (Mt. Airy, North Carolina), JMC Steel Group (Beachwood, Ohio), GEO Specialty Chemicals (Lafayette, Indiana), Seaman Paper Company of Massachusetts, Inc. (Otter River, Massachusetts), SSW Holding Company  (Elizabethtown, Kentucky), and True Source Honey (Washington, D.C.). They are American producers that have been harmed by unfairly priced imports which are now subject to antidumping and/or countervailing duty orders.