(Before It's News)
WTO Case Announced by USTR Builds on Strong Trade Enforcement Record
From day one, President Obama and his Administration have vigorously worked to build a far more capable trade enforcement system. The result has been a strong record of enforcement victories that are helping to level the playing field for American workers and businesses. The Administration has enlisted all relevant agencies and used all the tools at its disposal to identify, monitor, enforce, and resolve the full range of international trade issues, so that American workers, farmers, and businesses receive the benefits they are due under our trade and investment agreements and to prevent American jobs from being threatened by unfair trading practices.
- Aggressively Pursuing – and Winning – Cases at the World Trade Organization: Today, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is launching a new trade enforcement action against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) targeting China’s unfair subsidies for its aluminum industry. This is the 25th WTO challenge of this Administration and the 16th against China alone. The United States has brought more WTO challenges over the last eight years than any other country. And we’ve won every single one of these challenges that has been decided.
- Levying Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty Penalties on Foreign Industries and Trading Partners at the Highest Rate in 14 Years, Particularly Important to the Steel Industry: The Department of Commerce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are enforcing 370 trade remedy orders that address dumped goods or unfairly subsidized imports and level the playing field for American workers and businesses.
- In each of the last two years, Commerce initiated the largest number of new investigations in 14 years. The Administration worked with Congress to secure new legislative authorities that provide a substantial upgrade in our government’s trade enforcement capabilities. Commerce has conducted investigations and made final determinations on important cases brought by the American steel industry, finding dumping margins as high as 620 percent on certain products from China.
- Pursuing Diplomatic Engagement to Uphold Labor Rights, Protect the Environment, and Ensure Intellectual Property Rights Are Enforced: The United States has undertaken initiatives with our free trade agreement partners to strengthen workers’ rights in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, and others. We have pressed our trading partners to effectively implement environmental provisions in our free trade agreements to protect the environment and prevent illegal logging. Trade and Investment Framework Agreements between the United States and more than 50 trading partners and regions around the world have facilitated discussions on enhancing intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement. We also direct international initiatives to broaden awareness of IPR’s important role in addressing international concerns, such as counterfeit medicines and internet piracy, so countries will investigate and prosecute cases of IPR violations.
- Combating Excess Capacity in Industrial Sectors: The United States led an international coalition to bring together more than thirty countries – including both G-20 members and as well as major steel-producing countries that are not in the G-20 – to form a new Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The Global Forum, co-chaired by the United States, will address market distorting practices that negatively impact trade and the steel industry and workers around the world. Furthermore, we successfully secured significant new commitments from China, including a commitment that it will take further steps beyond its announced plans to progressively reduce its excess capacity, close loss-making “zombie enterprises,” and ensure that central government plans and policies do not target the net expansion of capacity in its steel industry.
- Building Stronger Enforcement Authorities and Coordination: President Obama worked with Congress to pass and sign into law two new pieces of legislation, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (also referred to as “Customs” legislation) and the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act (also referred to as the “Level the Playing Field Act”), each of which strengthened our tools for ensuring that our trading partners and foreign industries are competing fairly and following our trade laws. With these new authorities, Commerce, CBP, and ICE have been able to apply consequences for recalcitrant importers that persist in violating our domestic trade laws, increase on-site verification of imports, and further investigate claims of evasions of import taxes.
The Administration’s Continued Commitment to Enforcement
USTR Enforcement Actions
Enforcement at the WTO
Since the start of his Administration, President Obama has made enforcement of our trade rights a top priority. To that end, since 2009, the United States has filed 25 enforcement actions at the WTO, more than any other WTO Member over that period. And the United States has won every single one of those challenges decided thus far, including seven against China alone. Export figures confirm that these enforcement victories are worth billions of dollars for American farmers and ranchers; manufacturers of high-tech steel, aircraft, and automobiles; solar energy exporters; cutting edge service providers; and many others. To ensure the greatest economic benefits for American workers and exporters, the Administration continues to use our trade enforcement actions to emphasize opening large, strategic markets to which we can export a diverse array of Made-in-America products and services. Recent examples include:
- Indonesia agricultural import barriers victory: In December 2016, a WTO panel sided with the United States on all claims regarding Indonesia’s restrictive import barriers for horticultural products, animals, and animal products. The United States successfully challenged 18 Indonesian measures because they restricted or prohibited the importation of fruits, vegetables, and meat products. Elimination of these restrictions could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in increased U.S. agriculture exports to Indonesia every year.
- China administration of agricultural TRQs: In December 2016, USTR launched a WTO action against China targeting its administration of tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for rice, wheat, and corn. China’s TRQs permit set volumes of rice, wheat, and corn to enter China at a low duty rate. However, China’s administration of these TRQs is not transparent, predictable, or fair, and China’s TRQ administration restricts imports. This challenge will ensure China lives up to its WTO commitments to provide meaningful market access to U.S. grain exports.
- China discriminatory aircraft tax exemptions: In October 2016, USTR announced that the United States had confirmed China’s ending of discriminatory tax exemptions that had benefited certain aircraft produced in China. This announcement followed USTR’s December 2015 launch of a WTO action against these discriminatory measures that covered a wide range of domestically produced aircraft, including general aviation and regional and business jets. Through this action, the United States challenged China’s breaches of fundamental WTO rules of non-discrimination and transparency in this strategically important sector.
- India solar localization victory: In September 2016, the WTO Appellate Body agreed with a previous panel report finding that India’s “localization” rules discriminate against U.S. solar cells and modules by requiring use of Indian products. American solar exports to India dropped 90 percent after the prohibited requirements took effect, and this victory will eliminate discrimination against American solar exports in a roughly $1 billion market.
- European aircraft subsidies victory: In September 2016, a WTO compliance panel issued a report finding that the European Union, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom continue to breach WTO rules through subsidies the WTO previously found to have caused adverse effects to the United States. The compliance panel also found that these European governments further breached WTO rules by granting more than $4 billion in new subsidized financing for the A350 XWB which was causing tens of billions of dollars in additional adverse effects to U.S. industry.
- China agricultural government support: In September 2016, USTR launched a new WTO enforcement action against China’s excessive support for farmers. In 2015, the level of support provided by China through its “market price support” programs for rice, wheat, and corn was nearly $100 billion in excess of China’s WTO commitments. By setting prices for rice, wheat, and corn well above market levels, China encourages overproduction by its farmers, disadvantaging U.S. farmers seeking export opportunities in China.
- China raw materials restrictions: In July 2016, USTR initiated a dispute at the WTO against China’s export duties and quotas on various forms of nine different raw materials. These raw materials are key inputs into a variety of Made-in-America products from a range of sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, chemicals, and more.
- China demonstration bases agreement: In April 2016, following a challenge by the United States at the WTO, China agreed to dismantle its prohibited export subsidies under the “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” program. The agreement represented a win for American workers employed in seven diverse export sectors, including agriculture, textiles, and medical products, who will benefit from a more level playing field on which to compete.
- China poultry compliance challenge: In May 2016, the United States challenged China at the WTO following China’s failure to bring its AD/CVD orders against imports of U.S. chicken broiler products into compliance with WTO rules. The United States challenged the Chinese-imposed duties on behalf of American poultry producers and the hundreds of thousands of people employed in the poultry industry. The United States remains firmly committed to ensuring that China lives up to its WTO obligations, and that American farmers and workers can compete and win on a level playing field in the global economy.
- China high-tech steel duties: In July 2015, the United States prevailed in a WTO challenge to China’s compliance actions following WTO findings in 2012 that China’s duties on high-tech steel were inconsistent with WTO rules. Those WTO-inconsistent duties contributed to over $250 million in annual export losses for American steel exporters. The U.S. compliance challenge was the first time any WTO member had initiated a WTO proceeding to challenge a claim by China that it had complied with adverse WTO findings. China terminated the illegal duties following the USTR challenge.
- India agricultural bans: In June 2015, the WTO sided with the United States in a dispute challenging India’s ban on U.S. agricultural products such as poultry meat, eggs, and live pigs, agreeing that India’s measures represented unscientific and discriminatory restrictions. The decision affirmed that countries’ avian influenza restrictions must be grounded in science, such as by taking into account the limited geographic impact from outbreaks, and not be simply a disguise for protectionism.
- Argentina import licensing restrictions: In January 2015, the United States won a trade enforcement victory against Argentina that involved its widespread restrictions on the importation of a range of U.S. goods. The restrictions by Argentina affected billions of dollars in U.S. exports, including energy products, electronics and machinery, aero-space and parts, pharmaceuticals, precious instruments and medical devices, miscellaneous chemicals, motor vehicles, vehicle parts, and agricultural products.
- China SUV / automobile duties: In June 2014, the WTO found that China breached WTO rules by imposing unjustified extra duties on American cars and sport utility vehicles. In 2013, an estimated $5.1 billion of U.S. auto exports were covered by those duties. China terminated the illegal duties following the USTR challenge.
Other Enforcement Actions. In addition to these successes at the WTO, we have taken a wide range of additional enforcement action to protect the environment, ensure the protection of intellectual property, and protect labor rights so that American workers compete on a level playing field.
- Peru timber verification: In February 2016, the United States made the first timber verification request under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). In August 2016, the United States issued a statement reviewing the overall findings of the government of Peru’s verification report and identified additional areas of progress for Peru. The request serves as an important assessment tool to help ensure that Peruvian forestry laws are enforced throughout the supply chain, and that timber imported into the United States is legally harvested and exported.
- South Africa agriculture export settlement: The United States and South Africa negotiated the removal of long-standing barriers to U.S. agricultural products entering South Africa. The removal of these unfair barriers ensured American poultry, pork, and beef farmers access to an important market, while providing South African consumers with an opportunity to buy and enjoy high-quality American agricultural products.
- Honduras IPR enforcement: In March 2016, the United States announced Honduras’ commitment to undertake a series of actions to strengthen the protection and enforcement of intellectual property in Honduras. The new commitment followed USTR’s Out-of-Cycle Review of intellectual property protection in Honduras under the Special 301 report, and will benefit American agriculture, creative industries, telecommunications, textiles and apparel, and other U.S. exports.
- Colombia labor steps: USTR and the Department of Labor worked with the government of Colombia on a Presidential Decree, issued in April 2016, to help inspectors investigate and apply potentially very significant fines to employers that use abusive forms of subcontracting to violate labor rights. With robust enforcement, this decree could have a significant impact on the ground for workers and address a main concern related to protection of workers’ rights in Colombia.
- NTE report: In March 2016, USTR released the National Trade Estimate on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE) report, which represents a key component in the Administration’s unprecedented trade enforcement efforts. The report serves as a guide to trade barriers being imposed across the globe, and the work President Obama has done to build a more capable enforcement system that utilizes resources from agencies across the government.
- Special 301 report: In April 2016, the Obama Administration unveiled its 2016 Special 301 Report, which provides an overview on the global state of intellectual property rights and enforcement, and lists the most significant challenges facing American intellectual property creators and holders.
Commerce AD/CVD Actions and Trade Agreements Compliance
Commerce, CBP, and ICE are currently enforcing 370 antidumping (AD) / countervailing duty (CVD) orders that address dumped goods or unfairly subsidized imports. Of these orders, 184 involve imports of steel and steel-related products, representing nearly half of all orders currently in effect. AD/CVD orders are an effective tool for providing relief to U.S. companies and workers injured by unfair trade practices and allowing American companies to compete on a fairer and more level playing field. This year, Commerce has conducted investigations and made final determinations on important cases brought by the American steel industry, including on cold-rolled, hot-rolled, and corrosion-resistant steel products, finding dumping margins as high as 620 percent on certain products from China. Following affirmative determinations of material injury by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Commerce puts into place AD/CVD orders. The results of these AD/CVD investigations and orders are already having a positive impact on American workers. Recent examples include:
- Non-Oriented Electrical Steel. In October 2014, Commerce issued final affirmative AD determination orders with regard to non-oriented electrical steel from China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan and final affirmative CVD determination orders with regard to non-oriented electrical steel from China and Taiwan. Final CVD rates are as high as 158 percent for imports from China and AD rates are as high as 407 percent for imports from China.
- Corrosion-Resistant Steel. In July 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders on corrosion-resistant steel imports from China, India, Italy, and Korea, as well as an AD order on corrosion-resistant steel products from Taiwan. AD duties as high as 210 percent and CV duties as high as 241 percent were calculated for imports from China.
- Cold-Rolled Steel. In July 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders on cold-rolled steel from China, as well as an AD order on cold-rolled steel from Japan. In September 2016, Commerce issued further AD and CVD orders on cold-rolled steel from Brazil, India, and South Korea, as well as an AD order on cold-rolled steel from the United Kingdom. Commerce imposed final AD duties as high as 265 percent for China and final CV duties as high as 265 percent for China.
- Hot-Rolled Steel. In October 2016, Commerce issued AD and CVD orders with regard to hot-rolled steel from Brazil and South Korea, and AD orders with regard to hot-rolled steel from Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. AD duties are as high as 33 percent for imports from the United Kingdom and final CV duties are as high as 57 percent for imports from Korea.
- Cut-To-Length Plate. In November 2016, Commerce issued final affirmative AD determinations with regard to cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey. AD duties were as high as 94 percent for imports from South Africa. Commerce is in the process of conducting additional investigations with regard to cut-to-length plate. In September 2016, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination with regard to cut-to-length plate from China with preliminary CVD duties of 210 percent for all imports from China. In November 2016, Commerce issued preliminary affirmative AD determinations with regard to cut-to-length plate from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, with AD duties as high as 131 percent for imports from Italy. Commerce is scheduled to issue its pending final determinations by the end of March 2017.
Commerce also administers a variety of programs and has offices to monitor trade agreement operation, and identify and address foreign government non-compliance with trade agreement obligations. Commerce operates the Trade Agreements Compliance Program, which deals with non-tariff barriers that affect U.S. businesses operating abroad; monitors foreign AD/CVD actions against U.S. firms, advocating on their behalf to preserve fair access to key markets; and tracks and advocates against foreign government subsidy practices that distort trade and unbalance the playing field for U.S. companies. In 2016, Commerce successfully resolved more than 30 foreign non-tariff barrier trade compliance cases with a total combined value of more than $14 billion in exports safeguarded. Commerce’s advocacy efforts also helped bring about the successful termination of 26 foreign trade remedy proceedings in 2016, affecting approximately $373 million in U.S. exports.
Given the importance of these matters, Commerce is establishing an Advisory Council on Trade Enforcement and Compliance (ACTEC) to directly advise the Secretary of Commerce on laws and government policies that deal with trade enforcement; identify and recommend programs, policies, and actions to help Commerce in its efforts to ensure that U.S. trading partners comply with their trade agreement commitments; and recommend ways that Commerce’s trade enforcement and compliance policies and programs can better support a strong trade and manufacturing agenda and enhance the commercial competitiveness of the United States.
Stepping up U.S. Customs and Border Protection Efforts on Steel
CBP has worked alongside partners across the U.S. government to ensure that our trade laws are strictly enforced. CBP personnel work tirelessly at the 328 ports of entry and throughout the world to prevent shipments of unfairly traded goods from entering U.S. commerce, including steel that is being dumped on our markets or is unfairly subsidized and products that infringe upon U.S. intellectual property rights. In doing so, CBP defends the U.S. economy from unfair competition and the theft of American innovation and protects people who live and work in the United States from health and public safety risks posed by counterfeit goods. CBP continues to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure they have all the information they need to lawfully import and export their goods.
- CBP recently identified approximately $7 million in AD/CVD discrepancies on Chinese steel plate shipments, and raised continuous bond amounts for three steel importers.
- Additionally, CBP’s Operation Flatline recovered over $800,000 in AD/CVD duties on imports of corrosion-resistant, flat-rolled steel products from China.
- CBP’s Trade Enforcement Task Force has collected over $1.5 million in unpaid AD/CVD duties on steel imports.
- CBP has implemented a targeted approach to increase reviews of steel imports, which will provide a measure of the risk presented by steel imports, and identify targets for further enforcement.
- CBP is requiring “live entry” for certain high-risk steel imports, meaning that all entry documents and duties are required to be provided before cargo is released by CBP into U.S. commerce.
- CBP is partnering with the steel industry to deliver seminars for CBP, other U.S. government trade personnel (including Commerce and ICE), and customs brokers to provide participants with knowledge of industry operations and enhance understanding of how AD/CVD enforcement can best be implemented in the current trade environment. In Fiscal Year 2016, CBP and the U.S. steel industry conducted Steel Seminars in Laredo, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Long Beach, California; and most recently, in Detroit, Michigan. These seminars are scheduled to resume in early 2017 in Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; Newark, New Jersey; and Seattle, Washington.
- CBP’s Base Metals Center of Excellence and Expertise for trade enforcement, which is specifically focused on the steel sector, is now fully operational, where CBP’s industry experts work together to focus on outreach, targeting, and enforcement of steel imports.
- CBP Laboratories and Scientific Services is directing funds to its network of laboratories, where CBP’s forensic and scientific arm uses state-of-the-art techniques to identify AD/CVD evasion.
Building International Pressure to Address Excess Capacity
We have made clear to our trading partners – in particular, China – that excess capacity in the steel, aluminum, and other industrial sectors is harmful to American manufacturers and an unsustainable drag on the global economy and that all major steel-producing nations must be committed to working together to eliminate policies that contribute to excess capacity, particularly in the steel industry.
Over two years, we have engaged through bilateral mechanisms such as the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) to press China to address industrial excess capacity. In February 2015, China publicly announced plans to reduce steelmaking capacity by 100 to 150 million metric tons over five years. At the S&ED meeting in June 2016, excess capacity was a key economic priority, and we successfully secured significant new commitments from China, including a commitment that it will take further steps beyond its announced plans to progressively reduce its excess capacity, close loss-making “zombie enterprises,” and ensure that central government plans and policies do not target the net expansion of capacity in its steel industry.
We have built a robust coalition of like-minded trading partners who share our concerns regarding excess capacity and are committed to addressing this issue. At the end of May 2016, G-7 Leaders committed to quickly take steps to address global excess capacity across industrial sectors, especially steel. And on June 29, 2016, North American Leaders announced broad customs cooperation to ensure robust trade enforcement at our borders, including increased information sharing on high-risk shipments.
On September 4-5, 2016, these steps contributed to President Obama’s successful efforts to secure a commitment from the Leaders of the G-20, which also represents the world’s largest steel producers, to establish a Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. The Global Forum is designed to help lead to a reduction in global excess steel capacity and production through the identification of market-distorting policies that sustain excess capacity, actions to make net reductions in capacity, and monitoring and accountability mechanisms. In addition, at their summit meeting on September 5, 2016, President Obama and Chinese President Xi recognized that excess capacity was a global issue requiring collective responses, and committed to enhance cooperation and communication on the issue. In addition, China committed to take effective steps to address the challenges so as to enhance market function and encourage adjustments. China further committed to implement changes to its bankruptcy practice to facilitate market exit of failing firms and further improving its bankruptcy administrator systems to address excess capacity.
Consistent and concerted international engagement over 2016 yielded these milestones:
- Launch of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, December 16: More than thirty G-20 and other steel-producing countries put the Global Forum into action by approving Terms of Reference, and convening the first Forum meeting in Berlin, Germany. The United States, China, and Germany were selected as co-chairs of the Forum for 2017. The Forum will report the relevant G-20 ministers in 2017 and annually thereafter. The Forum’s establishment demonstrates a commitment to identify and resolve market-distorting practices that sustain excess capacity, creating a negative impact on trade, the steel industry, and workers around the world.
- Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, November 23: The United States and China committed to exchange information and work together to address global aluminum excess capacity. The United States and China also agreed to hold a U.S.-China Steel Dialogue in 2017.
- WTO Subsidies Committee, October: The United States with the European Union, Japan, Korea, and Mexico co-sponsored a paper on the problem of subsidies and overcapacity in certain sectors (e.g., steel and aluminum) and submitted it for consideration by the WTO Subsidies Committee. The submission proposed that the Subsidies Committee examine the extent to which subsidies contribute to overcapacity and how such subsidies could be further disciplined.
- U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, September 8: ASEAN countries recognized excess capacity as a global problem and welcomed the formation of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity envisioned by the G-20 and pledged to actively support its work.
- OECD Steel Committee Meeting, September 8: The United States actively participated in an exchange of information regarding regional and global steel market developments and steelmaking capacity developments, to carry out a work program that increases transparency of steelmaking capacity data.
- G-20 Leaders Meeting, September 4-5: Leaders committed to take effective steps to address the challenges of excess capacity in steel and other industries so as to enhance market function and encourage adjustment. Leaders also called for increased information sharing and cooperation through the formation of a Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, to be facilitated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the active participation of G-20 members and interested OECD members. This Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity would report on progress to the relevant G-20 ministers in 2017.
- U.S.-China Leaders Meeting, September 3: President Obama met with Chinese President Xi to emphasize U.S. concerns regarding excess capacity in steel, aluminum, and other industries. Both leaders recognized that excess capacity is a global issue which requires collective responses and committed to enhance cooperation and communication on the issue. In addition, China committed to take effective steps to address the challenges so as to enhance market function and encourage adjustments. China further committed to implement bankruptcy laws and further improve its bankruptcy administrator systems to address excess capacity.
- G-20 Trade Ministers Meeting, July 9-10 and G-20 Finance Ministers Meeting, July 23-24: Trade and Finance Ministers committed to enhanced communication, cooperation, and effective steps to address the challenges surrounding excess capacity, including participation in the OECD Steel Committee.
- North American Leaders Summit, June 29: The United States, Canada, and Mexico announced efforts to address government policies that distort the steel and aluminum sectors and contribute to excess capacity and announced that our customs agencies would work together to ensure robust trade enforcement at our borders, including increased information sharing on high-risk shipments of steel and other industrial goods.
- U.S. China Strategic & Economic Dialogue, June 6-7: The United States secured China’s commitment to, among other things, strictly contain steel capacity expansion, reduce net steel capacity, eliminate outdated steel capacity, and dispose of “zombie enterprises” through restructuring, bankruptcy, and liquidation, as appropriate.
- OECD Ministerial Council Meeting, June 1-2: The United States and partners issued statements recognizing the negative impact on trade of global excess capacity in sectors such as steel and shipbuilding, and stressed the need to avoid market-distorting measures and to enhance well-functioning markets.
- G-7 Leaders Meeting, May 26-27: G-7 Leaders committed to quickly take steps to address global excess capacity across industrial sectors, especially steel.
- Joint Committee on Commerce and Trade Steel Dialogue with China, May 11-12: U.S. senior officials, with full participation of steel industry representatives and the United Steelworkers, held a dialogue with senior Chinese government and industry officials to emphasize America’s serious concerns about excess capacity and injurious trade.
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) High-Level Meeting on Excess Capacity and Structural Adjustment in the Steel Sector, April 18-19: The United States, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Turkey, and others joined together to call for specific steps to address steel excess capacity and to urge the formation of a Global Forum facilitated by the OECD.
- North American Steel Trade Committee, March 31 – April 1: The United States, Canada, and Mexico agreed on the need for all major steel-producing countries to make strong and immediate commitments to address the problem of global excess steelmaking capacity.
Commerce and USTR organized a public hearing on April 12-13, 2016 to solicit a range of views about excess capacity to inform U.S. engagement with its trading partners, to identify solutions to address the steel crisis, and to hear the concerns of our steelworkers and industry. The request for public comment generated 100 submissions and 43 requests to testify. Among those testifying were twelve Members of Congress, the President of the United Steelworkers, a range of company CEOs and COOs, and five steelworkers’ associations. Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman each attended sessions with representatives from CBP, Treasury, Labor, and State.
In August 2016, Commerce announced the release of a series of reports detailing current steel trade flows involving the top importing and exporting countries. The enhanced global steel trade monitor reports provide U.S. business with updated market intelligence about global steel trade flows.
Bolstering Trade Enforcement Tools
On February 24, 2016, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (Customs bill). Coupled with the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act (Level the Playing Field Act), signed by President Obama on June 29, 2015, the Customs bill strengthens our tools for ensuring that our trading partners and foreign industries are competing fairly and following our trade laws. Relevant agencies across the U.S. government have followed through by fully implementing the authorities in ways that have produced results.
- Implementation of the Customs bill:
- Commerce now requires foreign exporters who claim to be “new shippers” to post actual estimated duties rather than bonds during the pendency of reviews to determine the validity of their new shipper claims, and has increased its scrutiny of exporters claiming to be “new shippers” in AD/CVD proceedings.
- Commerce has also increased the number of on-site verifications of the information provided by these so-called “new shippers,” and has found many of the sales reported by these exporters to not be genuine. As a result, imports from many of these exporters are subject to higher AD/CVD rates.
- On August 22, 2016, CBP published an interim final rule in the Federal Register, effective immediately, implementing additional procedures for investigating claims of evasion of AD/CVD orders pursuant to Title IV of the Act, commonly referred to as the Enforce and Protect Act of 2015, or EAPA. This strengthens CBP’s enforcement efforts by establishing an additional method for submitting and investigating allegations of AD/CVD evasion against U.S. importers.
- CBP established an interagency Trade Enforcement Task Force that enables CBP to leverage new enforcement authorities and harness the agency’s trade enforcement expertise as a focal point for coordination with other government agency partners, including Commerce, Department of Justice, and ICE.
- CBP established an Enforce Act team to operationalize the new mandatory AD/CVD evasion investigative procedures. This includes internal operating procedures, updating CBP’s e-Allegations website, and drafting regulations.
- CBP has issued four withhold release orders – which hold shipments in port – for shipment of goods made with prohibitive forms of forced labor and conducted various outreach events on implementation with various stakeholder groups including trade industry associations, foreign embassies, and non-governmental organizations.
- ICE has held over 30 information sessions on trade investigations relating to forced labor allegations to audiences such as trade industry associations, foreign embassies, and non-governmental organizations. In addition, ICE has held five media interviews on this same subject, all of which resulted in media postings in both print and online media.
- In 2016, the Small Business Administration integrated requirements in the law into the administration of the State Trade Expansion Program and issued matching-grant awards pursuant to the terms in the legislation.
- CBP AD/CVD Enforcement:
- In FY 2016, $14 billion of imported goods were subject to AD/CVD, and CBP collected $1.5 billion in AD/CVD cash deposits, which has increased over 25 percent since FY 2015, and by almost 200 percent since FY 2014.
- CBP levied monetary penalties totaling over $30.6 million on importers for fraud, gross negligence, and negligence for AD/CVD violations under 19 U.S.C. § 1592.
- CBP and ICE seized shipments with a domestic value of more than $5.3 million for violations of AD/CVD.
- Implementation of Level the Playing Field Act:
- Application of Level the Playing Field is already strengthening enforcement of the AD/CVD laws by ensuring consequences for non-cooperating parties, mandating the collection of cost of production data, and providing a firm legal basis for rejecting input values that are dumped or subsidized.
- The President’s FY 2017 budget requests:
- $606 million for CBP trade administration activities and 3,816 full time staff to implement this work.
- $84 million for the Commerce Enforcement and Compliance Program, a $4.5 million increase over the 2016 enacted level. This includes 347 full-time staff.
- Annualizes the 38 additional positions funded by Congress in FY 2016 – a 10 percent increase in Commerce’s enforcement staffing to address the urgent need for additional staffing caused by the sustained and significant increase in AD/CVD cases.