Two virtually unanimous votes by the U.S. International Trade Commission, imposing tariffs on dumped hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel imports from seven nations, culminate a year-long fight against the imports’ inroads, the United Steelworkers said.
But the Sept. 12 ITC votes don’t mean the battle is quite over yet, since higher levels of the U.S. government – including the president – could overturn the ITC’s ruling.
And, Steelworkers President Leo Gerard added, the ITC rulings, as welcome as they are, still come after the fact, and after the steel plants and their parent companies have lost business and shut down and after workers have lost their jobs.
U.S. steel firms and the union brought the trade case against the seven nations whom ITC cited: Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. They subsidized exports of hot- and cold-rolled steel to the United States.
The subsidized steel forced plant shutdowns and job losses in U.S. Steel’s unionized plant in Granite City, Ill., plus 15 more steel plants in Chicago and Lisle, Ill.; West Chester, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and in communities in Indiana, Michigan, Alabama and Kentucky, the union noted. At Granite City, the largest, 2,000 union workers lost their jobs. The ITC said a total of 18,408 workers were employed at the 16 plants.
These plant shutdowns led to reduce demand for taconite and large job losses on Minnesota’s Iron Range, the largest iron ore production center in the country. USW also represents those workers.
ITC’s rulings “will back-off the river of illegal steel imports,” Gerard said. “These successful enforcement actions will hopefully return laid-off steelworkers suffering the consequences of slow trade justice at idled mills deeply damaged by imports.
“Enforcing our trade laws shouldn’t always be the job of injured companies and their workers. Government needs to do more,” Gerard warned.
“Trade cases are only part of the solution. America’s steelworkers need immediate, forceful action on the bigger crisis of global steel overcapacity. Aggressive trade action must come swiftly, especially for the permanent shutdown of China state-owned zombie steel mills that are our destroying industrial communities.”
The commission said that “as a result of” its decisions, “the Commerce Department will issue countervailing duty orders on imports of these products from Brazil and Korea and antidumping duty orders on imports of these products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. As a result of the commission’s finding of negligibility, no countervailing duty order will be issued on imports of these products from Turkey.”