Portman, Brown Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Trade Remedy Laws, Protect American Workers

Senators’ Bill Would Help Fight Back Against Unfair Trade Practices, Support Ohio Manufacturers and Their Workers

April 16, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced the Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen U.S. trade remedy laws and ensure they remain effective tools to fight back against unfair trade practices and protect American workers. The Senators’ legislation would establish the new concept of “successive investigations” to improve the effectiveness of the U.S. trade remedy system in responding to repeat offenders and serial cheaters, helping to level the playing field for American workers.

“This bipartisan bill will strengthen our antidumping and countervailing duty laws to challenge China’s unfair trade practices and protect American jobs in sectors that are important to Ohio. Nowhere is China’s disdain for the free market more evident than in the steel overcapacity crisis,” said Portman. “Twenty years ago, China produced 18 percent of the world’s supply of steel. Now it is roughly 50 percent. Today it is steel, but tomorrow it could be electric vehicles or semiconductors. This overcapacity is the result of deliberate choices by China to subsidize their industries and degrade the free market in pursuit of global market dominance, all at the expense of American jobs.”

“For too long, trade cheats have shuttered plants across our state, put Ohioans out of work, and distorted global markets,” said Brown. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen our trade remedy laws, make clear the U.S has the tools to fight back against these harmful practices and will help keep Ohio workers on the job.”

The Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act will strengthen trade remedy laws by:

  • Cracking down on repeat offenders, by blocking the “whack-a-mole” problem that occurs when trade remedy orders are put in place on imports from one country, and as a result the U.S. market is flooded with dumped or subsidized imports of that same product from a different country.
    • The legislation establishes a process for these successive and concurrent investigations at the International Trade Commission (ITC) and U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce Department), and instructs the ITC to consider certain factors concerning the relationship between the successive investigation and concurrent or recently concluded investigations on the same imported product.
    • Under this bill, domestic industries will have the power to seek expedited relief in situations where a U.S. company has successfully fought for relief under U.S. trade remedy laws only to face a new surge in imports of the same product from another country that’s not impacted by the initial relief order.
  • Requiring the Commerce Department to issue preliminary determinations in these repeat offender cases to ensure quicker relief for U.S. manufacturers and workers, thereby strengthening the ability of the U.S. government to enforce antidumping and countervailing duty laws.
  • Addressing the growing problem of cross-border subsidization, as foreign governments subsidize their own manufacturers not only at home but in third country markets as well.
    • This happens when state-subsidized steelmakers from China invest in facilities in other countries to circumvent existing trade remedies.
  • Providing the Commerce Department with additional tools to combat cost distortion that may put U.S. manufacturers and producers at a disadvantage and properly calculate costs and value in antidumping investigations.
    • The legislation would also clarify the “normal value of a sale” to ensure the Commerce Department can act to prevent exporters in other countries from distorting their sales to circumvent antidumping investigations.
  • Clarifying the Commerce Department’s authority for antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings, helping to crack down on importers that attempt to evade antidumping or countervailing duties.
    • The legislation would allow the Commerce Department to require importers to provide a certification upon entry of an article into the United States that states that the imported article is not subject to an antidumping or countervailing duty order. 
  • Requiring the Commerce Department to investigate allegations of currency undervaluation in circumstances where the allegations meet the criteria for investigation under the existing countervailing duty law.
    •  The legislation ensures the Commerce Department will use appropriate methodologies to calculate any subsidy conferred as a result of currency undervaluation. 

Read more about the legislation HERE and HERE.

The Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act, which would help block steel overcapacity that leaves Ohio steelworkers and companies at a competitive disadvantage, has been endorsed by the American Iron and Steel Institute and is supported by a number of Ohio steel companies, including Nucor, SSAB Americas, Wheatland Tube of Niles and Warren, OH, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and ArcelorMittal North America. The legislation is also supported by other Ohio manufacturers, including Mullet Cabinets of Millersburg, Ohio.  

“By strengthening the effectiveness of the U.S. trade laws, this bill will help give the American public confidence that their government has every tool available to fight for a level playing field for every American worker. We appreciate the continued leadership of Senators Brown and Portman in support of the American steel industry and urge senators to quickly support this bill.” Kevin Dempsey, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute

“Cleveland-Cliffs greatly appreciates the strong leadership of Senator Brown and Senator Portman in championing this legislation, which will provide new tools to combat distortion and circumvention of our U.S. trade laws. Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest producer of flat-rolled steel in the United States, employing more than 25,000 highly-skilled workers. We rely on strong and modern trade laws to confront unfair trade practices in order to preserve and create more good-paying, middle class union jobs in the United States.”Lourenco Goncalves, Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer at Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.

“Nucor applauds the introduction of this important legislation and thanks Senators Brown and Portman, who have long been champions of American manufacturing and its workers. This bill would close many of the loopholes that have allowed foreign steel producers to circumvent our trade laws. It would give U.S. agencies clear authority to take proper enforcement measures against illegal subsidies, duty evasion, and other practices that have injured U.S. steelmakers for years. Our teammates in Ohio and across the country are proud to stand with Senators Brown and Portman as they continue their work to level the playing field for our domestic steel industry and American manufacturing.” – Eric Mitchell, Vice President and General Manager at Nucor Steel Marion   

“SSAB Americas welcomes the introduction of the Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act. This proposal will help restore fair market competition by holding accountable those who continue to abuse U.S. trade laws. We are grateful for the steadfast leadership of Senator Brown and Senator Portman. They are champions for the thousands of steel families and communities across our nation who play an indispensable role in building and strengthening America.”Chuck Schmitt, President of SSAB Americas

“Today, Ohio U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman took an important step to enhance the tools necessary to address chronic unfair trade practices that have harmed domestic manufacturers. Our company and employees have benefitted from remedies provided by the AD/CVD laws and we thank the Senators for their ongoing work to ensure the laws remain accessible and strong. These laws ensure that Wheatland can continue to compete and be part of the nation's economic recovery.”Kevin Kelly, President of Wheatland Tube of Niles and Warren, Ohio

“I want to thank Senators Brown and Portman for their continued commitment to maintaining strong and effective laws to combat unfair trade. This legislation will strengthen the tools available to U.S. manufacturers to fight foreign dumping and subsidies, including currency manipulation.”John L. Brett, CEO of ArcelorMittal North America

“Our company and our employees recognize the importance of having strong trade laws in place to challenge unfairly traded imports. As a U.S. kitchen cabinet manufacturer and a family owned business, we know first-hand how the trade laws have worked to provide relief to our company and our employees. We thank Senators Brown and Portman for their unwavering support of U.S. manufacturers and for introducing this important legislation.”Vince Mullet, President of Mullet Cabinets of Millersburg, Ohio

“In Kentucky, North American Stainless employs more than 1500 American steel workers who, if given a level playing field, can compete and win in the global market. Importantly, this bill closes a loophole in our trade law by giving Commerce the authority to investigate, consider and act on subsidies offered by countries to producers located elsewhere. We are grateful that Senators Brown and Portman are taking on the fight to stop unfair trade practices and protect American workers. We must put an end to ongoing attempts to undermine America’s national security and destabilize our critical manufacturing industry.”Cris Fuentes, Chief Executive Officer at North American Stainless