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Advocacy Agenda: International Trade

The health of the U.S.-based scrap recycling industry is dependent upon a healthy manufacturing base in the United States, as well as access to global markets. Exports of scrap commodities account for well over 25 percent of the industry’s economic activity and supports more than 134,000 Americans in good-paying jobs. With $16.5 billion in export sales annually, providing $1.41 billion in tax revenues for the federal government and $1.66 billion in state and local taxes, the need for the market-based movement of scrap across borders means trade is a critical pillar to the recycling industry’s success, as well as to the success of the U.S. economy. And as the largest supplier of scrap in the world, the U.S.-based scrap recycling industry is truly the first link in the global manufacturing supply chain. For all these reasons, ISRI works closely with the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR), the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Congress, other organizations and coalitions, and our friends around the world to aggressively advocate for:

  • Resolution to U.S.-China Trade Tensions.
    Accounting for 40% of U.S. scrap exports in 2017, worth $5.6billion, China was the U.S. recycling industry’s largest customer, but the Chinese government’s import policy changes significantly altered the global scrap trade. Furthermore, trade disagreements between the U.S. and Chinese governments gave way to exchanges of tariff packages that greatly affected the industry’s competiveness: U.S. import tariffs of 25% were imposed on shredder wear parts – 85% of which are sourced from China and represent one of the largest financial outlays for the 300+ shredders in the United States; China imposed a 25% import tariff on aluminum scrap in retaliation for U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs and extended that to 50% for aluminum and 25% for all scrap commodities in retaliation for other U.S. tariffs; and tariffs of 25% on all scrap imported into the United States from China. ISRI strongly supports a negotiated path forward for one of the world’s most important trade partnerships.

  • Enforcement of Existing Trade Laws.
    ISRI supports the strongest practicable measures to protect its domestic consumers from illegal dumping and unfair subsidies that have direct and indirect negative economic impacts throughout the manufacturing supply chain.

  • Promotion of Trade Agreements that Open Markets and Harmonize Standards/Regulations.
    U.S. recyclers win when they have access to existing and emerging international markets and where there is regulatory transparency and harmonization. It is for this reason that ISRI supports efforts around the world to standardize import/export policies, negotiate free trade agreements and work with business to promote market‐opening and barrier‐reducing opportunities for scrap commodities trade. And, ISRI is planning a trade mission to Southeast Asia in the fourth quarter of 2019.

  • Elimination of Tariff Barriers on U.S. Recycling Industry Exports.
    Exports of U.S. scrap commodities and recycling equipment currently face a range of import tariffs around the world. At the same time, there are no (zero) general duties imposed by the United States on imports of recycled goods such as recovered paper and fiber, ferrous and nonferrous scrap, or plastic scrap. For these reasons, ISRI aggressively supports efforts such as the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) at the WTO that have the potential to eliminate tariff barriers on U.S. recycling industry exports, thus promoting U.S. economic growth, creating jobs, raising income, and generating additional federal and state tax revenue.

  • Continued Support of Trade within North America through NAFTA.
    The North American recycling industry is the first step in healthy regional supply chains and is thus dependent upon unfettered scrap commodities trade among the three countries. ISRI supports the ratification of the USMCA and its timely implementation to prevent a disruption of the market‐based flow of scrap commodities within North America.

  • Prevention of Export Restrictions on Scrap.
    The health of the recycling industry—and its industrial consumers in the United States and around the world—are dependent upon access to the global market. Artificial barriers to the free and fair trade of commodity materials have a disruptive and detrimental effect on the U.S. economy. Worse yet, studies have long shown that efforts to control prices through export controls actually result in further price increases and disruptions in sourcing. History has shown that any attempt to artificially alter the market will create unanticipated harm in the form of higher prices for consumers.

  • Promotion of Global Specifications.
    Supporting opportunities to provide consistency in scrap specifications worldwide through ISRI’s Scrap Specifications Circular remains one of ISRI’s top priorities as we seek to ensure minimal disruptions and increase consistencies in the trade of scrap commodities across borders.

Have Questions?

Mark Reiter
VP of Government Relations
(202) 662-8517