Portman, Brown Introduce Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 as Amendment to Endless Frontier Act

May 20, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced an amendment, the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0, to legislation the Senate is currently considering called the Endless Frontier Act. This amendment is identical to legislation Portman and Brown introduced earlier this month 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 Endless Frontier Act is a bipartisan bill aimed at advancing U.S. technology research, creating jobs, and improving economic and national security in order to counter China’s economic and political ambitions.

“This bipartisan amendment 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.”

Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 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. 

Senators Portman and Brown initially introduced the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 in April as a stand-alone piece of legislation. This legislation builds upon the Leveling the Playing Field Act, a bill signed into law by former President Obama in 2015, that gives U.S. companies new tools to fight against unfair trade practices.