In Testimony before International Trade Commission, Brown Goes to Bat for Timken Workers by Urging Panel to Uphold Duties and Preserve Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) testified on behalf of the Timken Company and United Steelworkers today before a hearing of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC is conducting a five-year review on antidumping duties on imports of tapered roller bearings, which are manufactured domestically by several of the company’s Ohio plants, including the Gambrinus Road facility in Canton. The company employs approximately 4,700 workers, and more than 2,500 are involved in the production of tapered roller bearings. In his testimony today, Brown encouraged the ITC to maintain the antidumping duties on tapered roller bearings imported from China in order to help preserve jobs at Timken.

“Chinese companies, subsidized and aided by their country’s government, have tried to gain market control in the United States by selling tapered roller bearings for less in the U.S. than what they are sold for in China. This is just one of China’s many illegal attempts to undercut American manufacturers like Timken and the workers they employ,” Brown said. “The existing antidumping order on tapered roller bearings from China has simply leveled the playing field. Without these duties, companies and workers at businesses like Timken would be extremely vulnerable, and that’s why it’s so critical that the U.S. International Trade Commission keep them in place. When we enforce trade law, we encourage companies like Timken to preserve and even bring back additional jobs to U.S. factories.”

Brown has been a strong advocate for American workers and businesses in similar cases before the ITC. He sent a letter of support to the ITC in support of agriculture-related jobs in Lima, and testified before the ITC in September 2010 and December 2009 on behalf of Ohio steel manufacturers. The ITC's ruling in the December 2009 case led to a border measure on imports to support domestic producers of steel pipe like V&M Star and Wheatland Tube in Warren. By addressing illegal Chinese trade practices, this decision helped increase demand for domestic production. It also played a positive factor in V&M Star's decision to build a new, $650 million seamless pipe mill in Youngstown, bringing hundreds of jobs along with it.

In June 2009, Brown also testified before the ITC in support of rubber tire workers in Findlay and Leavittsburg. The ITC eventually ruled in favor of the tire workers, which led President Obama to employ trade safeguards that have protected American jobs and benefited domestic tire manufacturers.

Brown’s testimony, as prepared for delivery, is below.

Today, I am here to support the effort of the Timken Company and the United Steelworkers Union to maintain the order – and limit further harm to the domestic industry and its workers.         

The Timken Company, which is headquartered in Canton, Ohio, is a major U.S. producer of tapered roller bearings (TRB).

It has several of its TRB facilities in my state, as well as facilities that produce bearing quality steel.

In Ohio, there are nearly 4,700 Timken workers, including more than 2,500 whose jobs are directly dependent upon continuation of this order.

Since the second sunset review, there have been several plant closings and layoffs in the domestic industry.

Without the restraining effects of this order, I feel certain that greater harm would have been suffered in my state during your current period of investigation.

In January 2009, Timken laid off 60 workers at its Bucyrus, Ohio tapered roller bearing factory. In 2009, it closed the Canton Bearing facility and Gambrinus Bearing facility.

Fortunately, the Gambrinus roller plant remains open.         

Some foreign competitors have proven time and time again that they are willing to do anything – even cheat to gain an economic advantage over American innovation.

And too many American companies like Timken have been undermined by countries that game the system.

Fortunately, because of some of the wise decisions you’ve made – and new efforts to enforce trade law – we’re seeing some improvements.

U.S. companies are beginning to bring production back to the United States.

When a company decides to re-shore, U.S. production often increases – which means new jobs are created here at home.

But the viability of repatriated production depends on the ability of domestic producers to defend against unfairly traded imports.  

Too often foreign producers, aided and abetted by their governments, refuse to abide by internationally-agreed upon rules for international trade.

They engage in anti-competitive tactics such as dumping and improper subsidies to gain market share in export markets – no matter the impact on the industries in those markets. 

China is one of the worst offenders.

Dozens of cases  have been filed in recent years on products from China – across a wide spectrum of industries including products like steel, solar panels and wind energy structures to name but a few. 

Distortions in the Chinese economy – including granting loans to favored industries; price controls in various areas; state ownership of sectors; and restrictions on key inputs to bearings such as steel – create an environment in which export prices often bear no relationship to underlying actual costs.

It is these market distortions driven by China’s state capitalism system that so severely disrupts the American market place.

And it is these distortions that our trade remedies must correct.

That is why it is so very important that the existing antidumping order on Chinese tapered roller bearings remain in place.

If the orer is revoked, imports of tapered roller bearings from China will be dumped on the U.S. market at artificially distorted prices.

Companies, such as Timken, which operate in the free market, will be virtually unable to compete domestically, and will struggle to and remain a viable company. 

History has shown that foreign producers of tapered roller bearings are drawn to the U.S. market and who can blame them? 

The U.S. market is highly attractive with a very large customer base, well-developed infrastructure and channels of trade, and easy and open access. 

You can be sure that Chinese producers find the U.S. market no less attractive than producers in other countries. 

Indeed, the U.S. has been, and continues to be by far, China’s single largest export market for tapered roller bearings. 

If the order is removed, it is a certainty that China will resort to the same tactics of dumping that they have used successfully in countless other markets – to seize market share away from Timken and other domestic producers.

The impact on manufacturers in my state will be nothing short of devastating. 

You have the power and the authority to prevent that from happening.

The work of this Commission is important to workers and producers in my state and across our nation, and I urge you to exercise your authority to once again do the right thing and defend them in this review.

 

Thank you.

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