Business groups battle anti-dumping measure in China competitiveness bill

A coalition of business groups on Tuesday urged lawmakers to strip a bipartisan trade measure out of a China competitiveness bill before it goes to President Biden’s desk.

In a letter to congressional leaders, retail, trade and manufacturing groups announced their opposition to the Eliminating Global Market Distortions to Protect American Jobs Act, a measure to combat unfair trade practices included in the House-passed China bill.

The legislation would overhaul anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws to prevent companies from evading tariffs by rerouting their products through another country. American steelmakers have long complained that Chinese steelmakers use this tactic to dodge duties they’d otherwise be forced to pay. 

The business groups on Tuesday warned that the proposal would lead to increased tariffs on an array of products from U.S. allies such as Canadian lumber, Italian pasta and Japanese aluminum. They argued that the bill would “penalize legitimate trade and contribute to the inflationary pressures on American businesses”

“These mounting costs would come at a time when uncertainty in the market is at an all-time high, as supply chain challenges persist, and as inflation continues to rise,” the groups wrote. 

The National Retail Federation, the American Clean Power Association and Autos Drive America signed the letter, alongside other business groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also pushed back on the bill, while conservative groups have warned that it would hike the price of fertilizer for American farmers.

The trade proposal was first introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and later introduced in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). 

It is included in the China competitiveness bill that passed the House last month, but not the Senate version passed last year. While both bills would provide $52 billion to incentivize domestic semiconductor production, the House legislation has an array of trade and labor policies opposed by big business groups that were excluded from the Senate bill. 

The lobbying push comes as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) aims to pass another China competitiveness bill that includes the House-passed language so that a conference committee can craft the final legislation headed to Biden.

Tags Bill Johnson China Chuck Schumer Competitiveness Joe Biden Lobbying National Retail Federation Rob Portman Sherrod Brown Terri Sewell Trade

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