WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Richard Burr (R-NC) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help small and medium-sized businesses that are negatively impacted by unfair trade practices from foreign competitors. Currently, many agricultural producers, manufacturers and parts suppliers lack the resources needed to identify unfair practices and bring them to the attention of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This legislation establishes a task force within the Department to investigate potential trade abuses and better ensure it has the tools and abilities to support American businesses. Peters has previously discussed the legislation with President Trump, who called the effort “a fantastic idea.”
“Businesses across Michigan are producing goods and products but many are being undercut by foreign competitors that are using unfair practices to gain an advantage. Michigan’s cherry industry and our state’s manufacturers in particular have faced these challenges, and they often lack the legal teams needed to elevate these issues,” said Senator Peters. “Michigan workers can outcompete anyone on a level playing field. My bipartisan effort will ensure these businesses have an advocate that can address these challenges and protect Michigan’s businesses looking to grow here at home or expand in the international marketplace.”
“This bill will help make sure small and mid-sized businesses remain competitive in a growing global economy, and help deter unfair trade practices,” said Senator Burr. “I’m proud to co-sponsor this bill with Senator Peters, and hope our Senate colleagues will join us to support a level playing field for American manufacturers.”
“I strongly support efforts to enforce existing trade laws. Small farmers and business owners in Michigan’s cherry industry simply do not have the resources to defend against unfair trade practices from other countries,” said Phil Korson, President, Cherry Marketing Institute. “I thank Senator Peters for consistently championing this effort. Anything that can be done to maintain robust domestic agriculture production is critical to the future of our country.”
“For years, my business and farms across Northern Michigan have been hurt by foreign competitors looking to undercut American cherry production,” said Ben LaCross, Manager of Farming Operations, LaCross Farms. “This bill can help ensure that cherry farmers have a voice in addressing trade violations that impact us. I appreciate Senator Peters’ efforts and support for our state’s agriculture industry.”
“As a cherry and apple grower, I am a small family business owner in a relatively small industry. Farmers and other small business owners currently have few administrative options when we are faced with dumping or other unfair trade practices, because the cost and complexity associated with investigating and litigating these issues can present major financial and technical barriers to small family businesses,” said Isaiah Wunsch, CEO, Wunsch Farms. “Wunsch Farms and our neighbors appreciate Senator Peters’ legislative efforts to create a more level playing field for our small businesses by empaneling a permanent task force to investigate dumping and subsidies on imported goods.”
Currently, manufacturers and agricultural producers face unfair foreign competition from others that use practices including 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. For example, Michigan’s cherry industry has been negatively impacted by the dumping of cherry juice from Turkish competitors.
While the Commerce Department holds the right to self-initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, the power is rarely exercised. This bipartisan legislation is modeled after a recommendation within the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission’s (USCC) 2016 report to Congress, and would help reduce the negative effects on targeted businesses. The Self-Initiation Trade Enforcement Act would create a team solely focused on studying trade data and subsequently listing potential disturbing trade patterns for formal investigation, with an emphasis on cases impacting small and medium-sized businesses. Peters and Burr originally introduced this bipartisan bill last year.
Peters has been a strong advocate for Michigan small businesses. Most recently, the President signed into law bipartisan legislation Peters introduced to help small businesses safeguard their intellectual property with expanded education on obtaining and protecting patents. The legislation strengthens existing outreach programs run by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), to better inform small businesses on domestic and international intellectual property protections.