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Bill would let Customs crack down on steel dumpers

In March, Congressional Steel Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, right, greets, from left, then-ArcelorMittal USA President and CEO Michael Rippey; Nucor Corp. Chairman, President, and CEO John Ferriola; and U.S. Steel Corp. President and CEO Mario Longhi, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Visclosky applauded the House passage of a bill that would let the U.S. Customs Department crack down on steel dumping.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would give the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency the ability to do more to prevent steel dumping.

Members of Congress voted 256 to 158 to approve the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which would empower the customs agency to take action against foreign steelmakers that try to evade anti-dumping and countervailing tariffs.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and the Congressional Steel Caucus have lobbied to give customs additional tools to stem the tide of low-cost steel imports, which have captured 30 percent of the market share in America so far this year.

“I am pleased that the leaders of the Ways and Means Committee and Congressional leadership have responded to the call of the Congressional Steel Caucus,” Visclosky said.

“This legislation will improve the ability of the CBP to enforce our trade laws and provide American steelworkers with additional tools to fight back against illegal steel imports. We must do all we can to tell countries around the world that the United States does not tolerate illegal trade.”

Visclosky and other Steel Caucus members penned a letter calling for the customs department to investigate any industry claims of duty evasion, capping the amount of time investigations can take, and allowing for judicial review if steelmakers don’t like the outcome.

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“We applaud the efforts of Rep. Visclosky for his leadership in ensuring that strong language was included in the customs bill to make sure duties are being accurately assessed and collected at the border,” American Iron and Steel Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Gibson said.

“The steelworkers of Indiana and the nation are fortunate that the work of Rep. Visclosky will enable Customs and Border Protection officials to address concerns when foreign companies avoid duty payment. Rep. Visclosky once again has successfully championed the issues that are critical to the steel industry, and we are grateful.”

“Dumped and subsidized steel imports are taking a record share of the U.S. market, and are resulting in major facility idlings and layoffs,” Gibson said.

“The effectiveness of trade remedies hinges on ensuring that the duties authorized by law are in fact collected. Enactment of the ENFORCE Act (as included in this Customs Bill) will help to ensure that is achieved.”

The trade association is urging the U.S. Senate to pass the bill, and the president to sign it into law.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.