May 06, 2011

Senators, Business Leaders Underscore the Need to Enforce U.S. Trade Laws

Washington, D.C. – During a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Thune (R-SD), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and business leaders in U.S. manufacturing each vigorously expressed the need to better enforce U.S. trade law and investigate the foreign suppliers who consistently evade those laws.

Wyden, who chairs the subcommittee, intends to introduce legislation that will give the administration the resources and the discipline to enforce these laws.

Here are a few of the things they said:

Senator Ron Wyden: “It generally takes years for the government to conclude an investigation into evasion and reassess the appropriate duties that should have been collected.  While agencies are dragging their feet to enforce our trade laws, this country’s domestic manufacturers are being hammered by foreign trade cheats.  And it’s not like the cheaters wait around to get caught and pay their fines, they disappear long before the so-called government watchdogs arrive.”


Senator John Thune: In my state of South Dakota, furniture producers have been harmed by circumvention of existing antidumping duties on Chinese bedroom furniture. I believe we must do more to enforce the laws on the books so as to stop the flow of dumped products and I look forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues today in greater detail.”


Senator Jay Rockefeller: The working class men and women of my state deserve the comfort of knowing that their government will defend their jobs against illegal actors. They deserve a government that will use every resource at its disposal to stop the fraudulent bookkeeping and shipping practices that allow foreign competitors to evade global trade laws.”


Senator Sherrod Brown: “For a state like Ohio, where manufacturers compete in energy-intensive and trade-exposed sectors, customs enforcement is the critical complement to the enforcement of our trade laws. But when duties on unfairly subsidized or dumped products are evaded, it’s not just cheating. It’s getting caught and then ignoring the penalty.”

Senator Roy Blunt: “I believe that in order to expand and promote international trade, it’s critically important that we properly enforce the trade remedies available to American companies when they’re victims of unfair trade practices. Building support for trade policies in the United States means ensuring that our own job-creators don’t believe that the deck is stacked against them in favor of foreign competitors.”


Senator Rob Portman: “Foreign companies who are not playing by the rules, harming Ohio companies and American taxpayers, should not be allowed to do an end-run around the law.  American job creators are being cheated, we need to ensure  they’re able to fight on an even playing field, where we know they can compete and win,” said Portman, who initiated the first-ever legal case to be litigated and won against China before the World Trade Organization because of China's unfair treatment of U.S.-made auto parts.”

Senator Claire McCaskill: “We’re seeing more evidence of widespread duty evasion. I’m not convinced that customs and border protection is committed to enforcing these laws. I think they’ve been ignored and not been taken seriously for so long that it’s become part of the culture. Missouri jobs are at stake here. Missouri companies have invested their own money trying to do the job the government should be doing.”

Bob Mahoney - President of the Tubular Products Group of Northwest Pipe Company:
“It is in some ways indicative to me of the widespread acceptance and acknowledgement of the transshipment fraud that is occurring with Chinese products that someone would not think twice about sharing information on these practices in public before a large audience.”


Richard Adee – Chair of the American Honey Producers Associate Legislative Committee:

“Enforcement after the fact may prove an effective deterrent for specific would-be foreign criminals, but it has no yet proven effective at stemming the tide of illicit, under-priced and unsafe honey into the stream of United States Commerce. It is comparable to an ordinary car theft operation. You can catch as many car thieves as possible, but as long as the “chop shop” goes undisturbed, they will simply find another thief and just as many cars will be stolen with just a severe economic impact on the community.


Roger Schagrin– Chair of Government Affairs, Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws:
“In an era in which duty evasion has become pervasive and commonplace, the present Customs and Border Protection is understaffed, under-resourced, particularly in terms of investigative capabilities abroad, and lacks the leadership and reinforcement from headquarters necessary to make combating of fraudulent evasion of anti-dumping and countervailing duties a well-appreciated priority for CBP.”

Karl Glassman – Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, Leggett & Platt, Inc.:

“We have developed evidence that each year over one million innersprings subject to the anti-dumping order are imported into the United States without paying duties of up to 234%. This illegal evasion costs the .S. Treasury over $60 million dollars annually on our product alone.”