Trade Cases

President Orders Action on Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit

Written by Sandy Williams

On Friday the President signed an executive order that is designed to enhance trade enforcement efforts by the Commerce Department.

The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the United States Trade Representative Commerce are directed to develop a plan within 90 days that will require importers that pose a risk to U.S. revenue to “provide security for antidumping and countervailing duty liability through bonds and other legal measures.” Homeland Security is also tasked with identifying other appropriate enforcement measures.

Homeland Security and Customs Border Protection are to develop within 90 days a strategy to combat violations of US trade law that enable “interdiction and disposal” of inadmissible imported merchandise, protect intellectual property rights, and give federal prosecutors high priority to prosecute trade law violations.

The president also signed an executive order directing that Commerce and USTR provide an Omnibus Report on Significant Trade Deficits within 90 days that will assess, among other issues, the causes of trade deficit and its impact on U.S. manufacturing, jobs, and national security. The trade deficit in 2016 totaled $502.3 billion, according to the Commerce Department.

This order, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, will “identify every form of trade abuse and every non-reciprocal practice that now contributes to the U.S. trade deficit.”

“It will demonstrate the administration’s intention not to hip-shoot, not to do anything casual, not to do anything abruptly, but to take a very measured and analytical approach, both to analyzing the problem and therefore to developing the solutions for it,” he added.

The AD/CVD order can be accessed here and the Trade Deficit order here.

Industry comments

American Iron and Steel Institute president and CEO Thomas J. Gibson commented:

“AISI has consistently urged that the United States take aggressive action to address trade barriers that distort global trade and international competition and harm U.S. industries, including the U.S. steel industry. The executive orders today provide key guidance on that path, especially with regard to increased enforcement and an enhanced look at AD/CVD duty collection at our borders. We are pleased that the president and his team remain committed to leveling the playing field for American manufacturing, and we look forward to continuing the steel industry’s strong role in working with Administration to combat these unfair practices and ensure a fair and competitive global trade arena.”

US Steel Corporation released the following statement:

“U. S. Steel welcomes the steps taken today by President Trump aimed at further identifying and addressing root causes of unfair trade. Tougher enforcement of duty collection will contribute towards the fair and level playing field that America’s steel industry has long called for. A strong domestic steel industry is at the foundation of America’s economic and national security. We look forward to working with the Administration on these matters.”

United Steelworkers International president Leo W. Gerard said the executive orders must be “followed by serious, continued and comprehensive action.”

“Today’s announcement will hopefully help to strengthen American industry by cracking down on foreign trade law cheaters stealing American jobs and opportunity,” said Gerard. “As a diverse manufacturing union, the USW is the largest, single entity that has consistently fought for effective trade law enforcement to try to save our members’ jobs. But, getting a favorable decision from our government is only the start of the difficult and complex task of enforcement.”

He added, “Laws were tightened in a bipartisan effort in the last Congress, and those changes have made a real difference. Expanded authorities and efforts are critical because, without them, other countries will keep flooding our market with their unfairly traded products. Enforcing our trade laws must be a national security priority as predatory trade actions have undermined our industrial base.”

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