U.S. Steel Makers Ask Congress for a Fair Opportunity

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers from steel-producing states are pressing the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties on foreign competitors including Korean and Turkish producers of oil pipe and rebar believed to be engaging in unfair trade.

Members of the Congressional Steel Caucus convened Tuesday to hear concerns from industry stakeholders who said their companies are being threatened by unfair and illegal practices by foreign traders. Speaking were United Steelworkers President Leo W. Gerard, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi and Carl R. Moulton, International Allegheny Technologies senior vice president .

Members were widely receptive to their message and to their pleadings for the U.S. to enforce its own laws, to report violators to the World Trade Organization, to invest in the American workforce, to remove import incentives, to stop foreign manufacturing subsidies, to fight foreign currency manipulation, to reduce burdensome regulations and to redefine "American-made" to exclude steel poured overseas but finished domestically.

"With abundant energy resources, American steel is poised to make a comeback, which is why it is critical that we act before our economic momentum is stalled by illegal trade practices," said Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, who chairs the caucus.

Mr. Longhi told lawmakers that South Korea created a network of related companies in order to circumvent U.S. trade laws and that it is "dumping" steel here - that is, selling it for less than it costs to produce in an effort to put the American industry out of business. Other witnesses testified that Turkey is doing the same with rebar.

"Rule breaking is cheating. And trade based on deception can never be fair trade," Mr. Longhi told members of congress.

"We rely on you, our government, to enforce these rules and punish the rule breakers," he said. "All we ask for is a level playing field - the one our trade laws promised we would have."

Mr. Murphy said the Steel Caucus will encourage the Commerce Department to impose countervailing duties to ameliorate unfair foreign advantages.

"If the Department of Commerce does not impose duties . …

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