Senator John Thune today pressed officials from U.S. Customs and Border
Protection, Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce on enforcement of
current antidumping and countervailing duty laws during their appearance before
the Senate Finance Committee Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and
Global Competitiveness. Senator Thune is the Ranking Member of the subcommittee.
Richard Adee of Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, SD and Chairman of the
American Honey Producers Associate Legislative Committee testified before the
committee about the inability to enforce existing antidumping duty charges on
Chinese honey. Senator Thune also raised the issue of Chinese wooden bedroom
furniture that has evaded U.S. trade laws, negatively impacting domestic bedroom
furniture manufacturers. In October of last year, Senator Thune sent a letter to
the Secretary of the International Trade Commission (ITC) addressing the
concerns of Perdues Woodworks of Rapid City, SD, who expressed concerns that the
wooden furniture industry has suffered as Chinese furniture is skirting
antidumping duties and imposing duties on imports of similar materials as high
as 198 percent. In November of last year, the ITC determined that the domestic
furniture industry was materially harmed by China’s dumping wooden bedroom
furniture into the U.S. market and reinstated the duty for another five years.
“I appreciate the input of Adee Honey Farms and Perdues Woodworks on the
important issues related to trade enforcement,” said Thune. “Enforcing our trade
policies protects jobs and our economy.”
“Ten years ago, prior to the 2001 antidumping order, China shipped nearly 60 million pounds of honey annually to the United States,” said Adee. “While China now ships very little honey directly to the United States, the volume of honey entering, transshipped
through other countries has more than made up for it.”
Details on the entire hearing can be viewed at http://finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=295856e3-5056-a032-52d1-f5c55a067dcb.
During his opening statement for the hearing, Senator Thune noted, “I
believe we should all be able to agree on the principle that U.S. trade laws
should be enforced as effectively as possible, regardless of how we view broader
Senator Thune’s opening statement as prepared:
“I want to start by thanking Subcommittee Chairman Wyden for holding this hearing
and all of the witnesses for taking time to testify today. It is unfortunate
that trade can sometimes become a divisive issue. We have certainly seen that in
the past. However, I believe we should all be able to agree on the principle
that U.S. trade laws should be enforced as effectively as possible, regardless
of how we view broader trade issues. Today’s hearing is an opportunity to
examine enforcement of our antidumping and countervailing duty laws, an area
where many U.S. producers, shippers and importers believe that the law is not
being enforced as well as it should be.
“In my state of South Dakota, for example, we have seen first-hand the impact of our inability to fully enforce the existing antidumping duty on Chinese honey. While imports of dumped Chinese honey initially declined after the antidumping order was put in place, unscrupulous Chinese producers have since found ways around the antidumping
duties. These producers have increasingly transshipped their honey through third
countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. We have also seen Chinese honey
mislabeled as honey blends so as to avoid the antidumping duties.
“Unfortunately for U.S. producers, honey is only one example of the
problem. Chairman Wyden and a number of other Senators are particularly
concerned about steel products evading antidumping duties. 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.
“At the same time we strive to make enforcement of our trade laws more
robust, however, I believe we must be mindful of the burdens that are often
placed on the vast majority of U.S. importers who are not engaged in any
fraudulent activity and the importance of expediting the movement of the
legitimate trade that is critical to our economy. We need to remember that we
live in an increasingly global economy and that any new burdens on the flow of
goods across our borders, even if well-intentioned, can harm our economy and
drive commerce and trade to other nations.
“America’s retailers, in particular, are large importers and have much at stake in this debate. They have voiced concerns in the past about certain proposed changes to our antidumping and countervailing duty laws and have suggested new approaches, such as moving from the current retrospective system to a prospective system more in line with
our trading partners. I am pleased that we will hear the perspective of
America’s retailers today as well.
“Enforcement of our trade remedy laws is important for another reason—to generate and maintain public support for international trade. While I believe the factual case behind our three pending trade agreements is very compelling—and I was pleased to see the Administration yesterday finally commit to moving forward on all three agreements—it is not enough to quote dry numbers and statistics if we want to rebuild public support for trade. We must also convince Americans that the global trading system is fundamentally fair. We need Americans to know that while our businesses play by the rules, they should expect foreign businesses to do the same. When foreign
producers evade our laws and harm U.S. producers, confidence in global trade is
undermined here at home.
“As Congress considers the Colombia, Panama and South Korea Free Trade Agreements in the coming weeks and months, broad-based public support for trade will be even more important. I hope that the discussion today will inform our debate and generate new ideas and approaches to ensure that America’s trade laws are enforced in a manner that is fair to producers and importers, encourages the movement of legitimate trade, and broadens support for the upcoming trade agreements.”