June 25, 2015

Portman and Brown's Bill to Strengthen Trade Enforcement for Ohio Steel Workers Headed to the President's Desk

Leveling the Playing Field Act Passes House and Senate this Week

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that includes the Leveling the Playing Field Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) that will give U.S. companies – like the steel industry – new tools to fight against unfair trade practices. Now the bill is headed to President Obama’s desk to become law.

“I’m pleased these provisions to help Ohio steelworkers will now become law,” said Portman. “We must crack down on countries that break the rules, so our workers can get a fair shake in the global market. These measures ensure that Ohio workers can remain globally competitive by holding foreign countries accountable when they skirt the rules by illegally underselling or subsidizing imports.”

“American workers can compete with anyone in the world – but they need a level playing field,” said Brown. “Under this law, companies in the U.S. will be better equipped to settle the score against trade cheats who don’t play fair. This will create a fairer marketplace and help avoid layoffs like those we’ve seen in our steel industry.”  

“On behalf of ArcelorMittal, I would like to thank Senator Brown and Senator Portman for their efforts to improve the effectiveness of U.S. trade remedy laws,” said Jim Baske, Chief Executive Officer, ArcelorMittal North America Flat Rolled. “Our facilities and our workers are positioned to compete with anyone in the world, as long as there is a level playing field supported by fair U.S. trade laws. It’s reassuring to have our Senators standing up for us on this important issue.” 

“We applaud the changes to the trade laws that will enable the U. S. Government to hold foreign producers more accountable for their unfair trade actions,” said James L. Wainscott, Chairman, President and CEO of AK Steel. “We greatly appreciate the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown on this important issue for the domestic steel industry.”

“U. S. Steel is grateful Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown championed American manufacturing and the American worker by diligently advancing critical trade remedy and enforcement provisions in the Trade Adjustment Assistance reauthorization. Sens. Portman and Brown recognized that over time our trade laws have been weakened.  By the time ‘injury’ has occurred and can be demonstrated, our markets have already been flooded with unfairly traded goods, leading to suppressed prices, plant closures and employees being impacted by layoffs,” said United States Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi.  “This legislation allows American manufacturers and American workers to seek adequate and timely relief under U.S. trade laws. America won a round today against unfair trade, thanks to the leadership of Sens. Portman and Brown.”

“Nucor Corporation supports rules-based free trade.  Yet a brazen disregard for international trade rules has led to a historic surge of unfairly traded imports, harming our teammates, their families and their communities,” said Nucor Corporation Chairman, CEO and President John Ferriola. “We applaud Senate approval of essential improvements to our trade remedy laws, along with legislation to give the President authority to negotiate new trade agreements.  If approved by the House of Representatives, this will be a real win for our industry, one that would not be possible without the bipartisan leadership of Ohio Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that our industry has stronger and more effective tools to fight back against illegal trade.”

The Leveling the Playing Field Act, introduced in March, would restore strength to antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) statutes that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies. In May, the Senate passed the Leveling the Playing Field Act in its legislation to reauthorize U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The House also passed the bill in its customs bill.

This would benefit Ohio’s steel companies including: Picoma Industries in Cambridge, Sharon Tube in Niles, Wheatland Tube in Warren, Vallourec Star in Youngstown, and AK Steel.