President Donald Trump’s administration initiated an investigation into whether imported rubber bands are priced so low that American companies can’t compete.
The Department of Commerce will determine whether manufacturers in China, Sri Lanka and Thailand are dumping cheap rubber bands products that could force domestic companies out of the market.
“The department will act swiftly,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement announcing the investigation Thursday. “The Trump administration is committed to the enforcement of America’s trade laws that ensure U.S. businesses and workers have a fair chance to compete.”
The investigation is looking at allegations that there are 16 programs to subsidize production of rubber bands in China, 20 in Sri Lanka and 10 in Thailand.
The investigation comes only a few weeks after Alliance Rubber Company, the largest rubber band producer in the U.S., filed a trade petition with the government Jan. 30. “Rubber band manufacturers from Asia are receiving subsidies from their own governments and are artificially lowering their prices in order to root out American competition,” Bonnie Swayze, president of Alliance Rubber Company, said in a statement.
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The products coming from those countries are as much as 60 percent less expensive than the normal price, and are frequently inferior products, Swayze said in a letter to customers.
The 94-year-old Hot Springs, Ark., company employs more than 150 people and several veterans, according to the company’s website. The company didn’t immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
If the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) agree that the three Asian nations are unfairly dumping products in the U.S., the Trump administration could levy a rubber band tariff of between 27 to 133 percent, depending on the country of origin.
The U.S. imported $19 million worth of rubber bands from the three countries combined in 2017. Commerce and the ITC will make a preliminary ruling in March. The investigation continues an increase in trade investigations under Trump. The Commerce Department initiated more than 100 investigations Trump’s first year in office, an increase of 81 percent over the previous year, according to CNN.
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