U.S. International Trade Commission Votes to Protect U.S. Steel Pipe Manufacturing

U.S. ITC Rules For US Steelmakers Vs Chinese Imports

By Henry J. Pulizzi

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. International Trade Commission sided with U.S. steelmakers in a case over Chinese steel Wednesday, opening the door to new duties of up to 16% on steel pipes from China.

In the ITC’s largest-ever steel case, all six commissioners voted in the affirmative that a flood of imports of so-called oil country tubular goods from China has injured U.S. manufacturers.

The ruling adds more tension to the U.S.-China trade relationship. Ties between Washington and Beijing are already frayed by the Obama administration’s imposition of duties on Chinese tire imports and China’s criticism of U.S. moves as protectionist.

The ITC is an independent federal agency tasked with investigating the impact of alleged “dumping” of foreign products on U.S. industries. While its six commissioners are split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, the decision fits with the Obama administration’s push to address U.S. manufacturers concerns about Chinese competition.

Under pressure to tame double-digit unemployment, the administration has pursued action against a host of Chinese products, including preliminary duties this week on imports of steel grating. The ongoing trade friction highlights the challenge of addressing domestic economic unease without damaging the huge trading relationship between the U.S. and China.

Imports of oil country tubular goods, which are largely used in the energy sector, have surged in recent years to around $2.8 billion, prompting U.S. steelmakers and the United Steelworkers union to petition for relief.

Last month, the Commerce Department imposed countervailing duties on the steel pipes ranging from 10.4% to 15.8%. The ITC’s decision Wednesday allows the government to finalize those duties. The commission will make a separate decision on antidumping duties next spring.

Thomas J. Gibson, president of the American Iron and Steel Institute, called Wednesday’s ITC vote “an important step toward allowing our competitive domestic OCTG producers to compete on a level playing field unhindered by unfair and injurious Chinese trade practices.”

Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, pointed to a November statement by China’s Ministry of Commerce that called the anti-subsidy tariffs “discriminatory.”

The case was filed by Maverick Tube Corp.; United States Steel Corp. (X); TMK IPSCO; V&M Star LP; Wheatland Tube Corp.; Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel;Northwest Pipe; Wheatland Tube Corp.; and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union. They claim the tide of low-price products from China has triggered job losses and plant closings.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers union, lauded the decision, which he said demonstrates the U.S.’s commitment to enforcing trade rules.

“We are fed up with China’s constant cheating and false claims of U.S. protectionism, when it is China that practices illegal state subsidization and dumping that seeks to destroy good jobs and fair competition under WTO standards their leaders agreed to abide,” Gerard said in a statement.

Lawmakers echoed that view at an ITC hearing earlier this month.

“The steel pipe workers of my state have quite simply had the rug pulled out from under them due to one of the most inexcusable floods of dumped and subsidized products in history,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) testified.

-By Henry J. Pulizzi, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256; henry.pulizzi@ dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires
12-30-09 1352ET
Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

One thought on “U.S. International Trade Commission Votes to Protect U.S. Steel Pipe Manufacturing”

  1. Running a country is like raising children. You have to be specific about the rules and back them up.When enforcement fails , so goes the agreements.The failure of our elected leaders comes from cutting the enforcement forces to save money.The results are failure.

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