WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) urged the International Trade Commission (ITC) to rule in favor of Ohio steel producers being hurt by unfairly traded rebar imports. Today, Brown testified at a hearing of the ITC prior to a final determination hearing on antidumping and countervailing duties on steel concrete reinforcing bar products (rebar). In 2015, five U.S. steel companies, including Nucor Steel in Marion and Byer Steel in Cincinnati, filed petitions against Japan, Turkey, and Taiwan for underselling rebar imports to U.S. companies, driving the price of U.S. rebar down.
“This case is critically important for Ohio rebar producers, including Nucor and Byer Steel, and their workers. And it’s important that you understand who these companies and their workers are as you prepare to make your final determination – a determination that will affect families and communities across Ohio and our industrial heartland,” said Brown. “They’re not looking for special treatment – they just want the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.”
Following today’s hearing and additional hearings, the ITC will issue a determination as to whether or not rebar imports have materially injured or threaten to injure the domestic steel industry.
“Senator Brown understands the critical nature of the issues facing our domestic steel industry,” said Mike Hess, General Manager of Nucor Steel Marion, Inc. “When foreign producers disregard the rules of international trade, there must be consequences.”
Brown authored the Leveling the Playing Field Act, which he worked with U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to pass into law in 2015, in order to give Ohio steel companies more tools when fighting unfair trade practices by China and other countries.
In March, Brown met with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to discuss how they can work together and with President Trump to negotiate better trade deals for Ohio workers and boost Ohio’s steel industry. In the meeting, Brown raised several of his priorities for working with the Commerce Department, including addressing steel overcapacity, currency manipulation, and maintaining China’s nonmarket economy status.
Brown also joined Portman and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) to invite Ross to visit Lorain to meet with steelworkers and steel companies to see the impact of unfair trade on Ohio’s manufacturing sector. Ross committed to visit Lorain in separate meetings with Brown and Kaptur.
Earlier this month, Brown and Portman applauded Commerce Department action against unfair oil country tubular good (OCTG) imports from Korea that affected American OCTG producers including Vallourec Star in Youngstown and Wheatland Tube in Warren. Following Brown and Portman’s urging, Commerce found that Korean steel producers have been unfairly dumping this imports into the U.S. market, leaving Ohio steelworkers and steel companies at a competitive disadvantage.
Testimony of Senator Sherrod Brown as Prepared for Delivery
U.S. International Trade Commission
May 18, 2017
Chairwoman Schmidtlein and members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity to testify in this case regarding steel concrete reinforcing bar from Japan, Taiwan, and Turkey.
This case is critically important for Ohio rebar producers, including Nucor and Byer Steel, and their workers. And it’s important that you understand who these companies and their workers are as you prepare to make your final determination – a determination that will affect families and communities across Ohio and our industrial heartland.
Nucor – the largest steel producer in the United States – has a facility in Marion, Ohio, that has been producing rebar for 100 years.
There is a worker in Marion by the name of Roberta McCullough, whom I had the honor of meeting in October of 2015. Roberta has worked in the Nucor plant for more than 60 years. Think about that, more than 60 years. She’s a testament to how important the facility is to families like hers and to the entire Marion community.
Byer Steel in Cincinnati is family-owned and has been in the rebar business for four generations. They make high quality steel reinforcing bars. I have been to the Byer Steel facility and seen firsthand how efficient and competitive their 90 employees are.
I offer my testimony today on behalf of all four generations of the Byer family, on behalf of Roberta, and on behalf of all of the Nucor and Byer Steel workers. They’re not looking for special treatment – they just want the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.
It’s not the first time I’ve testified before the Commission on behalf of these rebar producers. The rebar industry, like the entire steel sector, has faced a distorted global market that undermines steel companies like Nucor and Byer Steel for years. And I hope the Commission will keep that in mind as you make your final determination.
In your preliminary report, you identified all the reasons why these companies have filed this trade petition:
They have lost market share in the U.S. Their shipments declined even when demand increased. They lost sales opportunities, prices fell, and their profitability has begun to decline. All because producers in Japan, Taiwan, and Turkey were underselling in the U.S. market and pushing U.S. prices down.
The best way to provide immediate, tangible relief to our rebar producers is to impose antidumping and countervailing duties to level the playing field. I was pleased when the Commerce Department announced its final determination on rebar imports from Japan and Turkey earlier this week.
Commerce found that rebar imports from those countries have been sold at unfair prices and that Turkey’s rebar exporters have received unfair subsidies.
Now, I ask the Commission to find in favor of the U.S. rebar producers as well.
I urge the Commission to issue a final determination that the domestic rebar producers are materially injured by rebar imports so these Ohio companies, and their workers – like Roberta – can get the relief they need to keep competing in the global market.