Trade Cases

Customs Bill ENFORCE Act Signed Into Law

Written by Sandy Williams

President Barack Obama signed into law Wednesday the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The customs bill which includes the ENFORCE Act has been strongly supported by the U.S. steel industry.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton spoke with the President at the National Governor’s Association in Washington, DC on Monday on the need for more aggressive means to address dumping of coal and steel by China.

Obama responded, ““Well, first of all, the good news is, we’ve been more aggressive than previous administrations when it comes to bringing enforcement actions. And this is an area where even the steelworkers, as much as they object to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), would acknowledge we’ve done a lot on this front.”

“The other piece of good news is that we actually had a companion bill to our trade promotion authority that just passed the House and the Senate, and that I’m getting prepared to sign, that will give us additional tools for enforcement — more resources, more personnel; allows us to take more aggressive actions.”

Obama admitted that it is not a “secret that China in the past has not always operated fairly.” The President emphasized that the enforcement actions should not be confused with closing off trade. “What is possible is making sure that everybody is playing on a level playing field and that people are operating fairly.”

Continuing on China’s reformation efforts, the President said, “They are now in a process where they’re trying to transition their economic model. They recognize that they can’t forever sustain an export-driven growth model. But it’s going to take some time, and it’s tempting for them to solve short-term problems by just dumping a bunch of state-subsidized goods into the U.S. market,” Obama said.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN) announced that the Administration is finalizing a multi-faceted plan to address massive foreign steel dumping.

“Specifics of the plan will be revealed over the coming weeks, and I will continue working closely with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough – a self-described convert to our cause – and his team to help make sure these steps are swift, bold and effective,” said Nolan.

Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) which has long championed the ENFORCE Act, said the measure becoming law is a “great day for the steel industry and all those who want to reign in tariff evasion and trade schemes at our borders.”

“The steel industry is in crisis, and we need to know that our laws are being vigorously enforced to fight back against importers who try to cheat at our rules. The ENFORCE Act will finally address the growing and injurious practice engaged in by foreign competitors who try to dodge U.S. laws – often by shipping the product through a third country and/or misclassifying the true origin of imports coming in. This law will now provide the U.S. government the ability to investigate these schemes and, therefore, enable the steel industry to seek remedies and help preserve American jobs that have been lost due to these and other unfair practices. We appreciate the Administration’s commitment to work with Congress and enact this crucial legislation, and look forward to working closely with them to ensure thorough implementation of these new tools,” Gibson concluded.

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