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Baldwin, Capito, Stabenow, Cassidy 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), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today introduced the bipartisan Play by the Rules Act to crack down on unfair trade cheating from nonmarket economies like China.

“China doesn’t 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 are needed to protect U.S. jobs and promote economic growth in our country,” said Senator Capito. “Unfortunately, there are non-market economies that do not abide by free market forces to set prices, which ultimately puts our country at a disadvantage. That’s why it’s important that we hold those countries accountable when this happens. Doing so will ensure we are putting American jobs and the American economy first. I’m glad to team up with Senator Baldwin once again in introducing this bipartisan legislation that 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 trade enforcement laws protect American workers and American jobs. When a bad actor like China circumvents our trade laws, they must be held accountable. The Play by the Rules Act would crack down on unfair trade practices and make sure American workers are competing on a level playing field,” said Senator Stabenow.

“The United States can outcompete any country in the world if the rules are applied the same to both countries,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This has not been the case between The United States and China, and it has hurt the American worker. We can do better.”

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.

The Play by the Rules Act is supported by the United Steelworkers (USW), the Decorative Hardwood Association, the Committee to Protect U.S. Trade Laws, and Felker Brothers in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

“Our trade laws were designed to protect American jobs from unfair traders who dump illegally subsidized products into our markets. These laws must be constantly defended and improved as unfair traders attempt to circumvent the intent of our dumping laws. The Play by the Rules Act provides much needed flexibility for the Commerce Department to stop nonmarket economies like China from circumventing our trade rules and threatening American jobs. I thank Senators Baldwin, Capito, Cassidy, and Stabenow for their leadership on this legislation,” said Tom Conway, USW International President.

“The Chinese government has subsidized plywood dumped by Chinese companies into American markets injuring American companies and their workers. When the U.S. government acted and assessed anti-dumping duties, American companies were able to re-hire workers in Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and West Virginia. But China is circumventing these lawful 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,” said Kip Howlett, President of the Decorative Hardwood Association.

“The Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws (CSUSTL) strongly supports the U.S. trade laws and recognizes that they ensure a level playing field for all parties impacted by unfair trade. The introduction of the Play by the Rules Act of 2019 reiterates the importance of having the appropriate trade tools available to remedy persistent trade distorting practices. We thank Senator Baldwin and her colleagues for their leadership and commitment to this issue.”

“For too long Wisconsin manufacturers like me have been forced to compete with unfairly subsidized Chinese imports. While our antidumping laws can create a level playing field for American companies to compete, China is always seemingly finding new ways to circumvent our trade rules. Senator Baldwin’s Play by the Rules Act gives the Commerce Department new flexibility to address Chinese circumvention and save Wisconsin jobs,” said David Hendrickson of Felker Brothers in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

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