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Local officials laud DOC steel ruling, but want workers back on job


EDWARDSVILLE – Local officials are cheered by the federal government’s decision to impose tariffs on countries engaged in unfair steel trade in the United States, but maintain the fight is not over until affected companies like U.S. Steel are back up to full strength and their laid-off workers back on the job.

The United Steelworkers, Madison County Chairman Alan J. Dunstan and other officials were notified that the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a determination late Friday for duties on hot-rolled steel imports from seven countries.

“The (U.S.)  Commerce Department’s final ruling was anxiously awaited by steelworkers and steel companies for the past year of the investigation,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “It levels the playing field with imports to provide fair and sustainable market prices for American steel, a critical step in restoring balance to the market.”

He further stated: “The hot-rolled steel trade case and others like it are vital to saving steel jobs and our communities. But they’re only part of the solution. Chinese excess steel overcapacity is causing terrible injury world-wide and remains a long-term threat. In America, we must reignite demand by rebuilding the nation’s failing infrastructure and manufacturing growth with our own steel in order to compete in a global economy.”

The trade case, filed by six U.S. steel companies last August, charged producers in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom with violating international trade laws by improperly subsidizing their steel producers and by dumping hot-rolled steel at below market prices in the U.S. market.

Dunstan said that while the Department of Commerce’s ruling is a step in the right direction, thousands of men and women are still laid off and waiting to return to work, including some 2,000 at the Granite City steel plant.

“The actions of the Department of Commerce in imposing tariffs are victories, but the fight will not be over until U.S. Steel’s Granite City Mill and other idled plants throughout the country are reopened and our workers can get back to the job of producing the finest steel products in the world,” Dunstan stated.

The USW said all that remains in the hot-rolled steel product case is the final ruling of the U.S. International Trade Commission on the injury investigation following last week’s hearing. USW International Vice President Tom Conway expressed confidence the six commissioners will vote an affirmative ruling early next month to complete the investigation.

Steelworkers and iron ore miners have been devastated by surging imports of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and corrosion-resistant flat steel products that are all in the final stages of separate trade case enforcement actions. More than 19,000 ongoing layoffs in the steel sector states have resulted from idled facilities.

Many of these steelworkers and iron ore miners have exhausted unemployment eligibility, challenging food banks to meet rising demand and threatening home foreclosures. The Granite City steel works of U.S. Steel Corp. in Illinois has been idled since last year with 2,000 workers, along with miners on Minnesota’s iron range.

The affected steel states include: Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Alabama, and Kentucky. Hot-rolled steel is used in automotive applications, pipe, tubing, transportation equipment, appliances, heavy machinery, machine parts and nonresidential construction.

According to the Department of Commerce fact sheet, the final determination on antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties for hot-rolled steel exports by producers in each country are:
• Australia – 29.37 percent (AD)
• Brazil – 33.14 to 34.28 percent (AD); 11.09 to 11.30 percent (CVD)
• Japan – 4.99 to 7.51 percent (AD)
• Korea – 3.89 to 9.49 percent (AD); 3.89 to 57.04 percent (CVD)
• Netherlands – 3.73 percent (AD)
• Turkey – 3.66 to 7.15 percent (AD); .34 (de minimis) to 6.01 percent (CVD)
• United Kingdom – 33.06 percent (AD)

The U.S. International Trade Commission final injury determination for hot-rolled steel must be made by Sept. 19, 2016. The duties announced by the government will then remain in place for five years for imports from the seven countries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  — From the Illinois Business Journal

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