On February 14, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Richard Burr (R-NC) jointly introduced the S. 2427, the Self-Initiations Trade Enforcement Act. If enacted, the legislation would give the Department of Commerce greater leniency to self-initiate investigations of unfair trade practices that harm U.S. producers by creating a permanent taskforce at the International Trade Administration to identify dumping and subsidized trade violations. The taskforce would focus specifically on trade violations affecting small- and medium-sized business. Although self-initiated cases occur fairly infrequently, the current administration is no stranger to them. November 2017 saw the first self-initiated antidumping and countervailing cases since 1985 and 1991, respectively.
Senator Peters is hopeful that an increased focus on smaller business will allow regional farmers, such as cherry farmers in Michigan, to obtain long-sought relief from potentially dumped competitive products. Both Senators voiced concern that smaller businesses may not be aware of trade violations, or lack adequate resources to investigate suspected violations, which can be both time-consuming and costly. The President has indicated support for the bill.