Portman, Brown Urge Full Enforcement of Legislation to Crack Down on Trade Violations


Washington, D.C. – Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) this week in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker urging full implementation of the Leveling the Playing Field Act, which was signed into law in June 2015.

Specifically, the letter presses the Commerce Department to apply adverse facts available (AFA) in trade cases in which a foreign company or government does not cooperate with Commerce’s investigation. AFA ensures the U.S. can use all the information and facts otherwise available during an investigation in which the other party is not cooperating. The Leveling the Playing Field Act marked the most significant changes to trade remedy law since 2002, and the law specifically sought to restore strength to AFA and guard it from legal challenges that have left Commerce reluctant to employ the tool during investigations.

The Leveling the Playing Field Act has made it easier for workers and businesses to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission when foreign producers cheat trade laws by selling goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies. It restored strength to antidumping and countervailing duty statutes. This will benefit the domestic steel industry, which has been especially hard-hit by illegal trade.

“Congress passed the Leveling the Playing Field Act to strengthen our trade remedy laws and to ensure our domestic manufacturers and their employees get the relief they deserve from unfair trading practices. But the law’s anticipated impact will be achieved only if the Department implements it properly,” said the Senators in the letter. “Failure to use AFA in the face of uncooperative respondents allows trade cheats to get away with violating international trade law and prevents American manufacturers from competing on a level playing field. The result has been devastating for domestic production and employment.”

The letter was cosigned by Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), John Boozman (R-AR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni K. Ernst (R-IA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Daniel Coats (R-IN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

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