THE VINDICATOR, YOUNGSTOWN
Tariffs were put in place six years ago because of dumping, the Ohio senator said.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. George Voinovich urged federal trade officials to not remove tariffs on foreign-made steel products used in the oil drilling industry because it would adversely affect U.S. steel companies, including Youngstown's North Star Steel.
"Enforcing the trade laws on the books is critical to keeping the playing field level for American steelmakers," Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, told the International Trade Commission on Tuesday. "Pricing products below fair market value -- and in some cases, less than the cost of making them -- jeopardizes our global trade system."
The commission is reviewing whether it should continue tariffs on oilfield tubular steel first enacted in 1995.
The tariffs were put in place then after it was determined that Argentina, Japan, Italy, Korea and Mexico were selling that type of steel in the United States at below production costs, known as dumping, in an attempt to hurt domestic steel producers, Voinovich said.
If the tariffs are lifted, the problem will resume, Voinovich said.
Makers: North Star Steel's mill on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and U.S. Steel in Lorain produce tubular steel, which is used to line the shafts of oil wells, Voinovich said. North Star is based in Minneapolis.
The two companies actively lobbied Voinovich for support and were part of a coalition that petitioned the government to investigate tubular steel dumping, said Scott Milburn, the senator's spokesman.
"I am worried that the resumption of these unfair trade practices will jeopardize the future of these mills and the men and women who work there," Voinovich told the commission.
Officials from North Star Steel could not be reached Tuesday to comment.
North Star Steel, which employs more than 400 in Youngstown, produces steel primarily used in the gas and oil well industry.