Letter to the Honorable R. Gil Kerlikowske, Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection - Regarding the Enforcement of Trade Laws to Combat Illegal Trade Practices


Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:

As members of the Congressional Steel Caucus we encourage you to fully utilize the trade enforcement tools provided to you by Congress to aggressively combat illegal trade practices that threaten the American steel pipe and tube industry and the communities that they serve.

The U.S. steel industry is facing a global overcapacity crisis and the need for strong enforcement at our nation's borders has never been greater. Data from the Government Accountability Office estimates that between 2001 and 2014, there was $2.3 billion in uncollected antidumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD) by federal agencies for a variety of types of products. The influx of foreign imports coupled with the lack of enforcement resources at our federal agencies is devastating American steel companies and the communities that they serve.

Given growing concerns regarding global excess capacity, Congress passed and the President signed into law P.L. 114-125, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which provides CBP with new tools and authorities to increase enforcement of U.S. trade law at our borders. Specifically, the Congressional Steel Caucus worked vigorously to include the Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) in P.L. 114-125 so your agency would have a transparent process for domestic petitioners to submit allegations of fraud and duty evasion by foreign competitors. The intent of this provision and trade law is to improve CBP's ability to fully investigate allegations of evasion to prevent further injury that is a result of unfair trade practices by foreign competitors.

Foreign competitors, such as China, use increasingly deceptive and fraudulent tactics to evade appropriate duties as their steel products enter the U.S. market. We are aware of the recent investigation of the alleged duty evasion of Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe (CWP) from China and are concerned about the CBP's non-initiation determination and what this will mean for U.S. steel pipe producers and the communities that they serve. As noted in the claim, it was alleged that over $80 million in duties were not collected and further, these CWP imports prevented an opportunity for U.S. steel pipe producers to serve valued customers. We are concerned that the result of this decision may deter other parties from filing EAPA claims as a way to seek trade remedy relief.

Therefore, we implore you to fully utilize all the enforcement and monitoring tools provided under this new trade law to ensure that all imported products covered by AD/CVD duties are entered in compliance of current law. This is essential to ensure that American companies and workers receive the full benefits of this important law. We are concerned that failure to aggressively investigate and initiate allegations of trade cheats will incite foreign competitors to continue to evade our trade laws and deter domestic producers from filing evasion claims.

We appreciate your attention to this critical matter and look forward to working with you to ensure that the American steel industry and steelworkers are afforded every opportunity under U.S. laws to compete on a level playing field.