Controversy Brews in Latest Seamless Steel Pipe Anti-Dumping Case

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It seems like a week doesn’t go by without another announcement of a major trade case involving steel products. First we had a steel line pipe case followed by an OCTG case in its final investigation with a decision pending on January 12, 2010. Now we learn of a seamless steel pipe case filed late last week. The case involves seamless pipes used for moving water, steam and natural gas. The petition was filed on September 13 by US Steel Corp, V&M Star LP, TMK IPSCO and the United Steelworkers union.

In all three of these cases, the controversy centers on Chinese products. And nearly all of the press on this new case argues that the filing of these anti-dumping cases amounts to trade protectionism on the part of the United States. Here are a few examples this one from China this one from a Reuters blogger and this one from Money Morning, although that last one contained a quote worth repeating here:

“China has openly adopted a neo-mercantilist, export-led economic growth strategy (and) keeps its renminbi undervalued against the dollar in order indirectly to subsidise its exports. This kind of trade is not win-win. Rather it is a classic zero-sum game, Clyde Prestowitz, the president of the Economic Strategy Institute, wrote recently in the FT.

That statement is supported by the range of Chinese policies intended to stimulate exports such as: eliminating export duties on a range of steel products including welded pipe and heavy sections, increasing the export tax rebate for certain steel products including some pipes and tubes from 0-9%, and increasing export tax rebates from 5-13% on a range of other steel products. MetalMiner has previously reported on many these developments.

So it’s no wonder the controversy around anti-dumping cases continues to grow. China has no intentions of sitting idly by and waiting for decisions to come from the US Department of Commerce. CISA (China Iron and Steel Association) has created a coalition of companies, trade associations and local governments to go on the offensive, possibly taking their case to the World Trade Association. And American producers have gone full throttle to attack these imports as a result of China’s export policies.

And though it’s hard to predict how all of these cases will eventually shape trade policy, one thing we know for sure, US prices will increase.

The case will be decided by the US ITC (International Trade Commission) on November 2. We’ll keep you posted.

–Lisa Reisman

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