President Barack Obama told Gov. Mark Dayton he's working to "level the playing field" and that countries are "operating fairly" in an effort to help Minnesota's struggling steel industry.
During the winter meeting of the National Governors Association Monday, Dayton asked the president about whether his administration is going to be more aggressive in its fight to prevent China from illegally dumping steel into the U.S. market.
The president says he's preparing to sign a bill that will give additional tools for enforcement to stop illegal steel dumping. Adding more resources and more personnel "allows us to take more aggressive actions," Obama told the governor.
"You're going to see firm, tough enforcement of our existing trade laws," the president says. "What is important is that we don't get confused by thinking that we should close off trade as an enforcement tool, because that is not possible."
Countries such as China and India have been accused of illegally dumping cheap, foreign-made steel, and it has ended up in the U.S. – meaning there’s less of a demand for steel made by companies here in the states. (The New York Times explored the problem in-depth in this article.)
That's led to falling steel prices worldwide, which in turn has affected workers on the Iron Range. Nearly 2,000 people have been permanently or temporarily laid off from jobs in Minnesota.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, who is among the Minnesotans fighting to help laid-off workers, also announced Monday the White House has a "multifaceted plan of action" to address foreign steel dumping – details of which are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.
“I am pleased to have the White House working with us to clamp down on trade cheater nations, reverse this crisis and start putting our miners back to work where they belong," Nolan said in the release.