Law360 Quotes Spencer Griffith on Trade Enforcement Patterns in 2017

Akin Gump international trade partner Spencer Griffith has been quoted by Law360 in the article “US Trade Enforcement Muscled Up In 2017,” which reports on the many new trade enforcement cases brought by the Trump administration this year.

One of the more noticeable actions, according to the article, was the decision to launch two investigations of steel and aluminum imports under a trade law dating from the Cold War era that had not been used in more than 15 years. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 allows the United States to impose restrictions on imports if they are deemed a threat to national security. On that basis, they would largely be insulated from legal challenge.

“If they take that position, this case, 232 on aluminum or steel, would bring to a head the Pandora’s box of the national security exception,” said Griffith.

Another big area of enforcement this year was an aggressive antidumping and countervailing duty process. The article reports that there has been a 52 percent increase in the level of investigations undertaken during the same period in 2016. Nearly all of those cases originated with the private sector, meaning the administration, the article notes, simply rubber-stamped the petitions it received and may not be directly responsible for the jump.

Griffith, however, feels that the tough enforcement stance coming from the White House has emboldened companies to file new cases at a greater rate. “I think public announcements out of the new administration as to their views on trade, certainly did create an atmosphere in which the petitioner community felt that this administration might be more receptive to aggressive trade actions than in the past,” he said.