Obama signs two trade bills

obamaPresident Barack Obama signed into law two pieces of trade legislation that US steelmakers believe will help open new markets and improve their ability to battle illegal imports.

Obama signed the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, which granted the president trade promotion authority to fast-track passage of trade agreements. Many consider TPA to be a prerequisite for passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obama said the TPP will include “strong protections for workers and the environment … [that] will actually be enforceable.” The US already has high labor and environmental standards, and passing the TPP would level the playing field, he said.

Obama also approved the Trade Preferences Extension Act, which renews trade adjustment assistance and includes new trade language for pursuing antidumping and countervailing duty investigations.

“We thank the administration for recognizing the critical role of the steel industry by supporting these initiatives to improve the effectiveness of our antidumping and countervailing duty laws,” Tom Gibson, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate having these improved tools at our disposal in our continuing efforts to combat unfair trade, given the trade laws have not been updated by Congress in over 20 years.”

Gibson also called for the House-Senate conference to expediently adopt the Senate version of the customs reauthorization bill, which includes provisions from the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion Act.
The ENFORCE Act would facilitate company efforts to combat antidumping and countervailing duty evasion, according to AISI.

US Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi commended the president for signing the two bills that he said would open markets to US-made goods and protect US workers and companies by clarifying the injury standard in unfair trade cases. “Today he took an important first step in the process of leveling the playing field against unfairly traded products and supported fair trade at home and abroad. We look forward to working with members of the administration to ensure that US trade laws and practices are strong and that countries who break our laws are punished before irreparable harm is done,” Longhi said in a statement.

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