WASHINGTON, D.C.—Urging a key trade agency to help preserve nearly 240 agriculture-related jobs in Lima, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) this week urging it to extend antidumping duties on nitrogen fertilizer imports from Russia and Ukraine. PCS Nitrogen Ohio, L.P., one of the few remaining American producers of solid urea—a type of fertilizer—operates a plant in Lima.
“This is about standing up for Ohio workers against unfair foreign trade. Trade enforcement helps protect Ohio jobs—including critical agriculture jobs,” Brown said. “Antidumping duties have helped protect the nearly 240 jobs at PCS Nitrogen in Lima, and that’s why it’s so important to use trade enforcement laws to keep and grow jobs here in the United States. The ITC has a duty to enforce the law and doing so puts American workers and businesses first.”
Currently, the ITC imposes antidumping duties on urea imported from Russia and Ukraine. The duties are up for review at the ITC, and revoking these duties could lead to a renewed flood of unfairly traded Russian and Ukranian urea imports, Brown wrote. Brown, along with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who co-signed the letter, are asking the ITC to uphold the antidumping duties in order to preserve jobs in Lima and at other urea producers in the United States.
Brown has fought for trade enforcement measures on behalf of tire workers in Findlay, steel workers in Youngstown, Warren, and Lorain, and wind energy workers across Ohio. By testifying or petitioning on behalf of workers before international trade enforcement bodies like the International Trade Commission (ITC) and advocating U.S. action at the World Trade Organization (WTO), Brown has fought for trade enforcement measures that create and protect jobs.
Ohio’s Tire Industry: In June 2009, Brown testified before the ITC in support of rubber tire workers in Findlay who were being undermined by a flood of Chinese imports dumped into the U.S. Following his testimony, the ITC ruled on behalf of tire workers, and President Obama announced that he would enforce "Section 421" trade safeguards that protect American manufacturers from excessive imports. After the ruling, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company announced plans to add capacity to its Findlay tire plant and hire up to 100 workers.
Ohio’s Oil Country Tubular Goods and Steel Industry: In December 2009 and September 2010, Brown testified before the ITC on behalf of Ohio steel workers including those at U.S. Steel in Lorain, V&M STAR in Youngstown, and Wheatland Tube Co. in Warren. 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 critical role in V&M Star's decision to build a new, $650 million seamless pipe mill in Youngstown, bringing an estimated 350 regional jobs along with it.
Ohio’s Aluminum Industry: In March 2011, Brown testified before the ITC on behalf of Ohio aluminum extruders. Since 2007, Chinese aluminum imports have risen, with the Chinese gaining a 25 percent market share during a time of decreased demand. China's underselling in the U.S. has led to lost revenue and business. U.S. aluminum extrusion companies have been forced to lay off workers, shut plants, reduce production, and reduce the number of shifts for workers. On May 3, 2011, the ITC voted to impose duties on certain aluminum extruders for five years.
Ohio’s Wind Turbine Industry: Ohio has a burgeoning clean energy industry—and auto parts supply chain eager to retool—that is being undermined by foreign competition. More than 70 percent of clean energy components are made outside of the U.S., with China on track to make half of world’s wind turbines and solar panels - and then sell them to countries like the U.S. In September 2010, American steel workers filed a petition accusing China of violating WTO rules by restricting access to raw materials; requiring investors to share technology; discriminating against foreign firms; and providing subsidies contingent on exporting of clean tech goods. Brown led a group of 43 senators in sending a letter to President Obama urging the administration to act upon China’s unfair trade practices that were identified by the Steelworkers. In December, USTR Kirk announced next steps for addressing these illegal practices and this past June, China announced it would end its illegal subsidy program for wind turbine manufacturers. Following reports in 2009 that a West Texas wind farm received $450 million in Recovery Act funding would purchase wind turbine components made in China, Brown called for strong domestic sourcing requirements and introduced the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act. This legislation which would ensure that grant money distributed through the "1603" wind energy program is given only to clean energy projects that preserve and create jobs in the United States. In June 2010, The United Steelworkers (USW) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced a new partnership to make the U.S. a leader in wind energy. The two groups released a framework agreement creating a "Partnership for Progress" to accelerate the development and deployment of wind energy manufacturing in the U.S. In August 2010, an agreement between the USW and two of China's leading power generation companies that will enable production of clean energy components in the United States.
The full text of the letter can be found below.
The Honorable Deanna T. Okun
United States International Trade Commission
500 E Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20436
Dear Chairman Okun:
We are writing regarding the current sunset review of the antidumping duty order on urea from Russia and Ukraine. As you know, PCS Nitrogen Ohio, L.P., one of the few remaining U.S. producers of solid urea, owns and operates a nitrogen fertilizer plant in Lima, Ohio. The plant accounts for a significant share of U.S. solid urea production and supports nearly 240 jobs in our state.
As the Commission undertakes its deliberations in the current solid sunset review, we hope that the Commission will carefully consider the impact that a renewed flood of unfairly traded Russian and Ukrainian imports would have on the jobs and investment at the Ohio plant. The U.S. industry has asked for the orders to be continued given its concerns about the likely negative impact of a revocation. These concerns are based upon the ability of Russian and Ukrainian exporters to very quickly send large quantities of solid urea—a commodity product—to the United States at prices that would undersell domestic urea. Such actions can be undertaken because Russian and Ukrainian exporters do not operate with a market-based production model.
The continuing non-market economics of solid urea production in Russia and Ukraine is a matter of significant concern for the U.S. industry. PCS Nitrogen and other U.S. producers have urged our negotiators to obtain commitments from the Russian Federation to liberalize its natural gas prices. To date, this important goal has not been achieved, even as Russia seeks World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. The antidumping discipline imposed on these imports is therefore the only measure available for ensuring fair trade in urea from these countries.
Further, we understand that no Russian or Ukrainian parties have actively sought revocation of the orders.
Given these considerations, we urge the Commission to carefully take into account in its analysis whether it is appropriate at this time to put a healthy U.S. industry at risk when its employment is so critical to our state, when no parties have asked for the orders to be revoked, and when the underlying conditions which led to the imposition of the orders have not changed.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.