The United Steelworkers and the petitioning domestic steelmakers praised new anti-dumping tariffs against cold-rolled flat steel products, while also saying that the damage from cheap imports has already hurt their operations.
“Today’s final duty orders by the Obama Administration expands fairer pricing conditions on cold-rolled steel products from five countries, combined with duties placed earlier this summer on the same steel import products from China and Japan,” United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard said. “We have nearly 19,000 steelworkers and iron ore miners still on extended layoff status since last year as the remaining steel trade case investigations continue to reduce huge inventories of unfairly dumped and subsidized finished steel imports that have been stockpiled before the case was initiated.”
The cold-rolled case hit producers in Brazil and the Republic of Korea hardest — South Korea’s POSCO was hit with 64.62% combined anti-dumping and countervailing duties due to a failure to confirm key elements of its response to investigators — but tariffs have already had an effect on steel imports into the U.S. Most of them were already being collected as preliminary duties that became final last week. The initial case was filed last year.
Injury Before Remedy
“The year-long investigation and duty orders show our trade laws need a rewrite in today’s world of steel overcapacity that’s putting American manufacturing workers and miners on layoff in their our own market, while foreign producers keep shipping illegally-subsidized and dumped products,” USW International Vice President Tom Conway told the Times of Northwest Indiana.
Brazil was one of the countries that saw a jump in imports after Chinese and other importers were hit with high anti-dumping duties earlier this year. Now Brazil will likely see its imports curtailed, too, in the ongoing game of steel import wack-a-mole here in the U.S.
Gerard told the Times that, “winning a trade case means we have to ‘lose’ first. This says we have to experience injury in the form of permanently lost jobs and shuttered facilities to qualify for relief.”
More Tools Necessary
There’s certainly some truth to that. No duties can be imposed without material injury first being observed and confirmed.
“We are pleased that Department of Commerce has used the tools made available to it to provide significant relief through affirmative anti-dumping and countervailing duty findings in the ongoing cold-rolled steel cases,” said Thomas Gibson, CEO/president of the American Iron and Steel Institute. “The U.S. trade remedy laws are the only means by which domestic industry can begin to mitigate the devastating impact from dumped and subsidized foreign imports.”
The U.S., and other nations such as Mexico which are now following suit in filing anti-dumping actions, are limited by the tools that they have.