The ­­­­­­Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act

The ­­­­­­Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act would create a permanent task force at the International Trade Administration (ITA), an agency within the Commerce Department, to investigate dumping and subsidies on imported goods. Dumping is an unfair trade practice where foreign competitors intentionally lower the price of their goods to make it harder for American companies that produce raw materials, manufactured goods and agricultural products to compete. Additionally, U.S. manufacturers are disadvantaged when imports are subsidized by foreign governments. The task force would be charged with independently researching trade data and subsequently referring identified trade abuses for further formal investigation by ITA, with an emphasis on cases impacting small and medium-sized businesses.

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced bipartisan legislation to help enforce trade laws for small and medium-sized businesses that are undercut by unfair trade practices. Under current law, the Commerce Department has the authority to self-initiate investigations into dumping and subsidies, but rarely utilizes this authority. The majority of their investigations begin only after companies or industry representatives lodge formal complaints. Small and medium-sized businesses, including agricultural producers, manufacturers, parts suppliers, and paper goods producers, often lack the resources needed to identify unfair practices and bring them to the attention of the Commerce Department.

“Small and mid-sized businesses in Michigan and across the country are working hard to make great products for consumers, but they often face unfair competition from foreign companies that flood American markets with artificially cheaper goods,” said Senator Peters. “Smaller companies with limited resources may not have the ability to identify trade violations, or worse, they fear retaliation from governments in foreign markets where they sell their products. This bipartisan bill will ensure American manufacturers and agricultural producers can compete on a level playing field.”

“I’m pleased to join Senator Peters as a cosponsor of this legislation to encourage the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration to flag more potential trade abuses for investigation,” said Senator Burr. “This bill will help put small and medium-sized business on a more level playing field against unfair imports. With Secretary Ross’ support, I hope my colleagues will join us to protect American trade in the global economy.”