Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today helped pass legislation that will protect American jobs by improving enforcement of existing trade rules. The legislation (H.R. 4105) specifies that the Commerce Department can impose anti-subsidy duties on imports from nations without market economies, including China and Vietnam. The House voted 370-39 in favor of the bill. The Senate plans to clear the measure quickly and send the bill to the President, who is expected to sign it into law.
"This legislation will help the U.S. to fight illegal subsidies that distort the market and cost U.S. jobs," Himes said. "If American companies are going to grow, they must be able to export their products, and our companies and workers should not be expected to compete in an unfair trading environment purposefully created by foreign governments."
Countervailing duties are trade import duties imposed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to neutralize the negative effects of illegal subsidies.
Under WTO rules, countries can choose to impose such extra duties if they determine that there is material injury to the competing domestic industry. Under the bill, such duties would not be required on imports from countries where the subsidies provided by the government cannot be identified or measured. The bill would effectively overturn a federal appellate court's decision in GPX v. United States that U.S. law prohibits the Commerce Department from applying countervailing duties to non-market economies because Congress never explicitly authorized the department to do so.
To date, there are 23 existing countervailing duty orders against products from China, plus one from Vietnam, and six ongoing investigations against Chinese and Vietnamese products.