NEW YORK The
American Wire Producers Association (AWPA) and leaders in the
domestic wire industry met with members of the House of
Representatives on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to better
enforce existing trade laws, which critics say importers have
been circumnavigating for years.
"Customs is not doing
their job, to be blunt," John Martin III, chief executive
officer of Mar-Mac Wire Inc., McBee, S.C., and president of the
AWPA, told AMM on the sidelines of the Wire and Wire
Products Caucus briefing June 26. "They have all the tools,
they have all the powers; theyre just not using
Avoidance of import
duties is widespread in the wire sector, industry leaders told
legislators. Importers who have been slapped with anti-dumping
or countervailing duties, particularly players from China,
routinely avoid duties by shipping their products via
third-party countries or by making minor modifications to
products so they do not technically qualify as imports subject
to duties, AWPA members said.
breaks the rules that it has agreed to with other nations,"
Rep. Billy Long (R., Mo.) said. "China currently falsifies its
documents and transships its products by sending them through
third parties in order to avoid the ... duty that they
primarily discussed H.R.1440, the Enforcing Orders and Reducing
Customs Evasion (Enforce) Act, which has been referred to the
House Ways and Means Committee. The legislation, which has 42
cosponsors, would reform U.S. Customs and Border
Protections oversight of imports so Customs could better
detect unfairly traded imports that illegally circumvent
"We need you to
enthusiastically support the Enforce Act ... (to protect)
American jobs fair and square against illegal foreign
activities," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D., Tenn.). "These rascals
are trying to evade these duties. It is wrong. If we have a
law, we need to enforce it. This is not complicated."
Chinese exporters of
wire clothing hangers, for example, may add a cardboard strip
to their products to exempt them from dumping duties, market
Likewise, sources said
there is evidence that some products are being shipped via
other countries in order to avoid duties. Chinas
shipments of prestressed concrete (PC) strand, for example,
largely halted after the U.S. industry successfully filed a
trade case in 2009, but shortly thereafter imports of PC strand
began arriving in the United States from Malaysia, and there
was strong evidence of circumvention on the part of the
Chinese, said H.O. Woltz III, chief executive officer of
Insteel Industries Inc., Mt. Airy, N.C.
The Enforce Act would
require Customs to investigate claims of duty evasion and
allocate resources to stop the import of unfairly traded items.
Provisions in the bill also would improve the accountability
and transparency of Customs actions, Amy DeArmond, government
policy and legal affairs strategist for Leggett & Platt
Inc., Carthage, Mo., told AMM.
Several speakers also
noted that Chinese steel companies routinely receive government
subsidies to maintain and expand steel production, giving
exporters to the United States an unfair advantage.
Woltz said that on a
visit to China, a steel executive disclosed that the Chinese
government was giving him $14 million to relocate and modernize
president and chief executive officer of American Spring Wire
Inc., Bedford Heights, Ohio, told AMM on the sidelines
of the caucus that he talked to Chinese executives who were
incredulous that Selhorst was paying for his own die casting
machine without government assistance. "A guy like me
cant compete with Chinese companies that are getting
subsidies," Selhorst said. "Its scary."
The Enforce Act is
likely to reach the House floor for a vote in the fall,
industry sources said.