Senator Portman Speaks at Heritage Foundation Trade Event
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke at The Heritage Foundation’s “US Automotive Industry Needs Free Trade” event on Tuesday (23 Oct). Before being elected to the Senate, Portman served as US Trade Representative in the George W. Bush administration. During his speech, he discussed a variety of trade issues including section 232 and national security, section 301 and China’s unfair trade practices, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the important role the auto industry plays in the US.
Portman urged the administration to remove the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs from Canada and Mexico before signing the agreement. In addition, he stated that it would be a mistake to impose 232 tariffs on autos and worries that if the administration continues to misuse the law, they could lose that tool, which is worrisome because, as Portman said, 232 “is an important tool to have in the toolbox in a case of national security.” To conclude, he advocated for a two-pronged approach to balance trade that would “enforce trade laws to ensure that imports coming in are not unfairly treated and doing so aggressively but on the basis of fairness” and “expand markets.”
Antidumping Duty Determination: Steel Wheels from China
On Wednesday (24 Oct), The US Department of Commerce announced its preliminary affirmative determination that Chinese exporters have been dumping steel wheels in the US at a margin of 231.70%. In 2017, US imports of steel wheels were valued at an estimated $388 billion.
The petition was submitted by Accuride Corporation of Evansville, IN, and Maxion Wheels Akron LLC of Akron, OH, in March. In August, Commerce made a preliminary determination that China was providing certain steel wheel producers and exporters with countervailable subsidies ranging from 58.75% to 172.51%. The announcement was published in the federal register. Commerce must make a final determination by January 8, 2019. The US International Trade Commission (ITC) must make its final determination “approximately 45 days after Commerce issues its final determination.”
If Commerce and the ITC make an affirmative final determination that imports of certain steel wheels from China “materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry,” Commerce will issue an antidumping (AD) order. If either Commerce or the ITC issue negative final determinations, no AD order will be issued.
In early October, it appeared that US-China trade relations were improving when the White House announced that President Trump would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G-20 summit in Argentina. However, this week it was reported that President Trump has no intention of easing tariffs on China because he wants Chinese leaders to feel the full impact of tariffs. Officials from both countries were optimistic that the meeting would serve as an opportunity for the two leaders to begin negotiations for a new trade deal. China, however, is unwilling to provide the US with a proposal prior to the summit. Chinese officials have told the US they would prefer to meet for discussions before submitting a proposal. A senior White House official stated, “If China wants [the G-20 session] to be a meaningful meeting, we need to do the groundwork and if they don’t give us any information, it’s just hard to see how that becomes fruitful.”