Anti-dumping actions dominated the metals world again this week as the U.S. government promised to get even tougher on subsidized imports of foreign steel, aluminum and other products.
Wednesday: Hot-Rolled Flat Dumping
The Commerce Department placed tariffs on hot-rolled flat products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the U.K. on Wednesday This started the ball rolling on what looks to be a contentious fight over duties as high as 49% (the U.K.) and 36% (Brazil).
Previously, most of the duties placed on hot-rolled steel products had involved China. Now, it’s other producer-nations in the crosshairs. While China’s the source of most of the overproduction, why should they get all of the duties? As this result shows, Brazil and the U.K. are no slouches at sending steel they can’t sell at home over here.
Semi-Finished, Fully Melted
In aluminum, Commerce has finally been convinced that that it needs to investigate aluminum “semi-finished products” which are really just slabs welded together. Seriously, that’s what the whole case is about. Apparently welding the slabs together keeps them from being taxed when leaving China, which, in turn, keeps them from being eligible for import duties in the U.S. Most are melted back into ingots upon their arrival in the U.S., anyway.
Good luck, domestic extruders! The “semi-finished” scam was one of the more insidious dumping tactics we’ve seen in the past few years.
U.S. Steel Weighs In
On Monday, we were at the Steel Markets North America conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago. The keynote address by U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi, of course, prominently featured dumping and what the domestic producer is doing about it.
“Foreign governments created this problem, not market-based economics,” Longhi said. “The injury standard was clarified, for trade cases, for the first time since 1978,” Longhi said, speaking of the new customs bill, part of which was the ENFORCE act. “Nobody really understood the intent of the law in 1978, the language said that any action that after could lead to injury we, as an industry, were already entitled to protection under the law (from that). We have to remain aggressive if we want this industry to survive.”
Longhi added that we don’t even really know how well the current trade cases will help U.S. steelmakers, as most are being appealed or will be appealed to the U.S. International Trade Commission and there’s a delay between preliminary decisions and Customs and Border Enforcement collecting duties, anyway.
One might wonder, what domestic producers are paying all of those lawyers for in the first place? It would be nice if it was relief.