Government

Portman, Brown Testify on Behalf of Steel Producers

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman offered testimony Tuesday urging the International Trade Commission to protect U.S. steel companies during a final determination hearing on antidumping and countervailing duties on cold-rolled, hot-rolled, and corrosion-resistant steel flat products.

The three cases were filed by U.S. steel companies, including U.S. Steel, AK Steel, ArcelorMittal, and Nucor, all of which have Ohio locations and together employ more than 8,000 Ohioans. ArcelorMittal has a facility in Warren.

“It is clear that the domestic flat products steel sector has met the statutory definition for injury in all three cases,” Brown, D-Ohio, said, in prepared remarks for the commission. “Steel imports are causing serious harm to our industry.  We’re seeing it in terms of import volume, those imports’ effect on prices, and their impacts on domestic producers.”

“The American steel industry is facing a crisis,” Portman, R-Ohio, said in his testimony. “We produce the best steel in the world, with the most productive workforce, and yet, last year, more than 12,000 steelworkers around the country were laid off. Nearly 1,500 of those were in Ohio. These layoffs are devastating on the families of these hardworking steelworkers and the communities where they live.”

Despite increased domestic demand for flat-rolled products, U.S. steel manufacturers are suffering decreased market share, declining prices, shutdowns or production curtailments, and consolidation and restructuring in the sector, Brown said. While American steelworkers’ productivity rose in recent years, overall employment and hours worked dropped.

“Since January 2015, the U.S. has shed 14,800 jobs in the steel sector. Nearly 1,500 of those jobs have been lost in Ohio, almost entirely in Warren, Canton, Youngstown, and Lorain. That’s 1,500 families who are struggling to get by, trying to figure out what’s next,” Brown said. “I don’t know a better way of demonstrating injury than pointing to the idled or boarded-up factories that were forced to shut down due to a surge in unfairly traded imports.”

American steel companies are struggling in the face of dumped and subsidized imports, he warned. Those companies are critical to U.S. national security, infrastructure, global competitiveness and the economy because of the jobs they provide.

In his testimony before the commission, Portman urged the agency to use the tools that Congress provided in the Leveling the Playing Field Act to protect Ohio steelworkers from countries like China, Brazil, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom that continue to flood the U.S. market with unfair steel imports.

Signed into law last June, it reinforces anti-dumping and countervailing duty statures that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and ITC when foreign producers sell goods here below market value or receive illegal subsides.

In the three cases before the commission, for example, from 2013 to 2015, U.S. imports of cold rolled steel increased by more than 110%, imports of hot-rolled steel doubled, and imports of corrosion-resistant steel increased by 75%, Portman said.

“In the world of trade litigation, justice delayed is justice denied. Trade relief can be effective, and we are already seeing signs that following the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination the cases before you are making a difference for U.S. mills,” he said.

Following Tuesday’s hearing and additional hearings, the International Trade Commission will issue a determination this summer as to whether or not steel imports have materially injured or threaten to injure the domestic steel industry.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.