Dear Senator Brown:
On behalf of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws (CSUSTL), I thank you for reintroducing the Leveling the Playing Field Act (S.891). CSUSTL’s membership appreciates your leadership in helping ensure that the trade laws remain an effective tool for U.S. companies and their workers to address unfair trade practices. We also obviously appreciate the bipartisan support the bill reflected on introduction with Senators Graham, McCaskill and Franken as original co-sponsors. Fair trade is an issue that historically has received strong bipartisan support. We are confident that S.891 will continue that long-standing tradition. Indeed, businesses and workers and communities in nearly every state in the country have in the past or currently depend on enforcement of our fair trade laws to address market distortions by foreign competitors and foreign governments.
CSUSTL’s members, which span all major industrial sectors, including manufacturing, technology, agriculture, and mining (companies, associations, and worker representatives), depend on the trade laws to ensure that they can compete fairly and on an equal footing with foreign competitors who dump to gain advantage in the U.S. market, or who benefit from government subsidies. Fair trade conditions support manufacturing and agricultural jobs in America, living wages for our workers and vibrant local communities.
The Leveling the Playing Filed Act contains common sense, good government revisions to the antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Many of the changes are intended to promote administrative efficiency at the Department of Commerce which like all parts of government is tasked with doing more every year with limited resources. Enforcement and Compliance, the Commerce unit tasked with administering these laws, is faced with a growing number of investigations, administrative reviews, WTO cases, and court challenges. At the same time, the Department’s resources have decreased over the past several years due to budget constraints. These provisions are designed to reduce the burden on administrators, without sacrificing the effectiveness of the laws. Several provisions clarify existing U.S. law and would return U.S. administration to its structure before a handful of court decisions imposed obligations that complicate the administrative process inconsistent with longstanding Congressional intent.
Other provisions are aimed at reducing the ability of foreign respondents to game the system by abusing provisions related to voluntary respondents, new shipper reviews, and providing requested information in antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The bill also gives U.S. Customs and Border Protection the ability to compel importers to submit country of origin certifications in cases where Commerce requires them and to collect duties and potentially customs fines where such certifications should have been provided but weren’t or contained false or misleading information. Finally, the bill delineates additional factors the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) should consider when making its assessment of injury to the domestic industry, and permits the Commission to extend the period of investigation when recovery from a recession masks injury or such extension is otherwise appropriate. We look forward to continuing to work with you and other Members in the Senate and House to seek enactment of this important legislation.
Terence P. Stewart