Local steel industry advocates are cheering a government decision to set duties on foreign imports that undercut prices fetched by U.S. products used in oil and gas exploration.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has decided that tariffs will be added to imports of steel pipe from nine oil countries: India, South Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam.

The steel pipe is used mainly in drilling oil and gas wells, and the imports, especially from South Korea, have figured heavily in the recent U.S. drilling boom, including the shale fields in eastern Ohio.

"We believe the trade case sets a precedent which will have a positive impact on future import prices, as the affected countries will want to avoid any further trade case investigations," said Dave Mitch, president and chief executive of Houston-based TMK IPSCO, which employs 350 at a plant in Wilder, Kentucky.

TMK was among nine companies that last year petitioned for trade relief, citing concerns that imports were sold at less than fair value in the United States or benefited from a foreign government subsidy. As a result, companies said they were being hurt by a rising number of imports.

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