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Senators Urge White House to Crack Down on Steel Imports

May 16, 2014
Senate Democrats continue to press the Obama administration to toughen its stance against the import of cheap steel pipe from South Korea and a handful of other nations.

Senate Democrats continue to press the Obama administration to toughen its stance against the import of cheap steel pipe from South Korea and a handful of other nations.

According to a Wall Street Journal story, 51 senators signed and sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker yesterday expressing their opposition to the Commerce Department's February ruling that exempted South Korea from a list of nations alleged to be dumping steel pipe on the U.S. market below cost:

The dispute is over a preliminary decision the Commerce Department issued in February exempting South Korea from a “dumping” charge, which would have accused the Koreans of selling their steel pipe below cost in the U.S. and hurting domestic companies. Eight other exporters — India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam — were fingered as dumpers. …

On Capitol Hill, the steel issue is bipartisan — though it includes all the Senate Democratic leadership. Eleven Republicans joined 40 Democrats on the letter, which was organized by Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. While many of the Democrats come from steel-producing states in the Rust Belt, others include Hawaii Democrats Mazie Hironoand Brian Schatz and Reid, who don’t have significant steel interests in their states.

The Commerce Department is expected to announce a final ruling on the case in July. Interestingly, the WSJ quotes an unnamed Commerce official saying it is "not unheard of" for a preliminary negative Commerce Department ruling to be reversed in its final determination.

The American Iron and Steel Institute applauded the senators' letter, saying in a statement that the document sends a message "that the majority of the U.S. Senate will not tolerate anything but the strictest enforcement of our trade laws against unfair trade practices."

AISI President Thomas Gibson said the Commerce Department's initial ruling in February "failed to recognize and address the injurious dumping" of steel pipe by South Korea and other nations.

"The U.S. government must aggressively and strictly enforce our trade laws to ensure that relief is provided to steelmakers and the nearly one million workers directly or indirectly supported by the steel industry," Gibson said.

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