By Chris Adams

The Trump administration in early 2018 set out to limit the flow of imports in some key industries. Steel and aluminum were a big focus, with the president pledging to put tariffs on cheap shipments of those metals coming from around the globe. Other products could be targeted next.

Scott N. Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, gave Paul Miller fellows a tutorial on the nation’s convoluted trade enforcement process, and the ways American companies and the government itself seek relief from low-priced imports.

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

He described the differences between “dumping” cases that involve shipping underpriced products to the U.S. and “countervailing duty” cases that involve subsidies by foreign governments that prop up its own industries.

Paul outlined the steps and timelines involved in pursuing a dumping case – often a lengthy and costly process.

As part of his presentation, Paul targeted several myths he sees in the trade debate.

One of the biggest, he said, is that the steel and aluminum tariffs announced in early 2018 will hurt steel-buying industries and therefore consumers. That’s overstated, Paul said.

They also could play well with the public.

“I know that the word ‘tariffs’ scares Washington, but voters love them,” he said.