ITC ruling on steel dumping another win for US industry

ITC ruling on steel dumping another win for US industry

America’s steel industry is on a winning streak, but that doesn’t mean this country can let down its guard when it comes to dealing with its so-called trading partners. At least a half million jobs remain at risk because of foreign-made steel products flooding the U.S. market.

But the latest unanimous ruling by the International Trade Commission against Mexico and Turkey for dumping steel reinforcing bars (rebar) is a great victory for domestic producers, including two in Ohio, Nucor Steel in Marion and Byer Steel in Cincinnati.

Ohio’s two U.S. senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, who have been at the forefront of the campaign on Capitol Hill to make steel dumping a front-burner issue for President Barack Obama, were quick to respond to the ITC ruling.

“As American manufacturing continues its steady comeback, it is critical that we fully enforce our trade laws to ensure that American companies compete on a level playing field,” Brown said. “Today’s [Tuesday’s] decision by the International Trade Commission helps ensure that U.S. companies — like Marion’s Nucor Steel and Cincinnati’s Byer Steel — are not further harmed by foreign competitors dumping product into our market.”

Portman said the ruling was “good news for thousands of Ohio steelworkers in Marion, Cincinnati and beyond.”

“I visited Byer Steel earlier this year and saw firsthand how Ohio steelworkers can compete and win on a level playing field. Washington must stand up for American manufactured goods, and today’s decision is an important step in preventing unfairly traded rebar from threatening jobs here at home.”

The ITC ruling comes on the heels of another significant decision that has a direct impact on major steel companies in the Mahoning Valley, including Vallourec Star in Youngstown, JMC Steel in Warren and TPC IPSCO in Brookfield.

In mid-August, the ITC found that South Korean companies were dumping steel pipes, tubes and fittings used by oil companies. These products are known as oil country tubular goods (OCTG), and foreign manufacturers seeking to profit from the oil and gas shale play have been selling them at below-market prices.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, along with Brown, Portman and 57 other senators and 155 other representatives, launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at the Obama administraiton after the Commerce Department ruled that South Korean pipe producers were not guilty of selling their products at artificially low prices to undercut U.S. producers.

Anger and frustration

The subsequent outpouring of anger and frustration at President Obama for his seemingly lackadasical attitude toward such unfair trade practices prompted the Commerce Department to revisit the issue. Members of Congress joined forces with union and business leaders and steel workers to make the case that South Korean companies were dumping their steel products.

Commerce reversed its preliminary ruling in July and about a month later the International Trade Commission found against the South Korean companies.

Congressman Ryan noted that government subsidies for steel from South Korea were so high that the cost for the finished product was the same for only the raw materials for U.S. firms.

Last year, South Korea exported 894,300 metric tons of steel tubes into the U.S. valued at more than $800 million. That’s money sucked out of one of the most promising sectors of the U.S. economy.

But with the August ruling on OCTGs and this week’s decision on rebar, there’s every reason to believe the Obama administration and the ITC have finally realized that the dumping of foreign-made steel products in the U.S. is a very real problem that must be addressed. The playing field must be made level.

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