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U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Shelley Moore Capito Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Trade Cheating

Play by the Rules Act Holds China Accountable for Ignoring Trade Rules and Harming American Workers and Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today introduced the bipartisan Play by the Rules Act to crack down on unfair trade cheating from nonmarket economies like China.

“China has refused to play by the international trade rules they agreed to and they should be held accountable,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will give the Commerce Department the flexibility it needs to take stronger actions that protect American workers and businesses against China cheating.”

“Fair trade rules and policies help protect U.S. jobs and ensure economic growth in our country. Unfortunately, there are times that non-market economies refuse to adhere to those policies or manipulate the system to put the United States at a disadvantage. When that happens, it’s important that we hold those countries accountable to ensure we are putting American jobs and the American economy first,” Senator Capito said. “This bipartisan legislation will provide the Commerce Department the flexibility it needs to hold bad actors accountable and ensure that our trade policies are followed and respected.”

Our anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duty laws are designed to stop trade partners from tipping the scales in their favor and forcing American workers to compete at a disadvantage. These laws allow U.S. customs officials to collect duties on foreign imported products that are sold below market value or produced with unfair government subsidies.

AD/CVD rules are widely used and mostly followed by WTO members. However, nonmarket economies—like China—are engaged in a sophisticated and government-backed effort to avoid paying the duties required by these rules at the expense of American workers and businesses.

The Play by the Rules Act provides the Commerce Department additional flexibility when reviewing anti-circumvention petitions filed against nonmarket economies like China. This flexibility will allow Commerce to better combat China’s attempts to cheat our workers and businesses.

Last year, Columbia Forest Products filed a successful AD/CVD case against dumped hardwood plywood from China, allowing the company to rehire workers at its facilities in Mellen, Wisconsin and Craigsville, West Virginia. However, China is now circumventing the order by shipping a softwood plywood that mimics the characteristics of hardwood plywood, but is not included in the AD/CVD order. Columbia Forest Products lost their petition at the Commerce Department to adjust the duties.

“The Chinese government has subsidized plywood dumped by Chinese companies in American markets. Last year, the U.S. took action and assessed anti-dumping duties, which allowed Columbia Forest Products to re-hire workers in Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia. Unfortunately, China is circumventing the duties, threatening to undo our progress. Senator Baldwin’s legislation provides the Commerce Department with the tools we need to crack down on trade cheating from China. We fully support her efforts and thank her for her work,” Gary Gillespie, Executive Vice President of Columbia Forest Products.

The Play by the Rules Act is supported by the United Steelworkers and Columbia Forest Products.

More information about the Play by the Rules Act is available here.