By Chris Adams

As the administration of President Donald Trump sets out to crack down on imports it says are decimating American industries, the complaint window at the nation’s trade enforcers is bound to get a workout.

Scott N. Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, gave Paul Miller fellows a tutorial on the mechanisms by which American companies – or the government itself – seek relief from low-cost imports.

Whether steel or aluminum or car parts or washing machines, the imports often are sold in the United States at prices that make it difficult for U.S. firms to compete. Paul, whose group represents the United Steelworkers union and manufacturers often hurt by imports, described the process for companies to file an unfair-trade complaint with regulators at the U.S. International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce.

If the foreign exports sell to the U.S. at “less than fair value” and the sales cause or threaten injury to U.S. firms, then duties – essentially a tariff – can be assessed. Duties can also be assessed if the foreign exports are being subsidized by the exporting country’s government.

Paul outlined the steps and timelines involved in pursuing a dumping case – often a lengthy and costly process. “Industries generally only file cases that they believe they are going to win,” he said.

He also gave fellows an overview of the key entities in the trade area now, including the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department, the International Trade Commission and the World Trade Organization – as well as players in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.