Following Efforts by Brown and Portman, International Trade Commission Rules to Protect Ohio Manufacturers from Illegal Foreign Trade Schemes

Oil Steel Tube Imports Have Doubled Since 2008; Commerce Department Ruled that Korea is Unfairly Under-selling its Steel in U.S. Market, Costing American Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling for protecting Ohio steel manufacturers and the jobs they support. Following months of efforts by the senators to urge the ITC to crack down on countries that illegally dump their steel in the U.S. market, ITC ruled that it would do so by levying trade tariffs against the countries, including South Korea, whose unfair trade practices threaten American competitiveness.

Today's ITC vote imposes anti-dumping duties on six of the nine countries which were accused of exporting dumped OCTG into the United States. These six countries, which importantly includes South Korea, represent over 90 percent of dumped imports into the United States last year. The senators will work with the impacted companies and workers to evaluate options for the other countries in the case that received a negative determination.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for Ohio steel and for Ohio workers,” Brown said. “The evidence is clear – and we’ve seen that the Commerce Department and ITC agree – that these companies are ignoring trade law and undermining American manufacturing. It’s past time to stand up for companies and give them the relief they need. The producers and workers in Youngstown, Warren, Lorain, Brookfield, and across Ohio can compete with anyone – as long as it’s a level playing field. Today’s news is a good step toward that goal.”

“I’m pleased with today’s ruling reaffirming that American manufacturers deserve to compete on a level playing field,” Portman stated. “Ohio pipe and tube companies are among the best in the world, but we must stand up to foreign competitors who break trade rules at the expense of Ohio workers.”  

Oil Country Tubular (steel) Goods (OCTG) are used for domestic oil exploration, especially shale. Steel produced for the U.S. energy market, such as OCTG, accounts for approximately 10 percent of domestic steel production and nearly 8,000 American jobs across the country. U.S. producers, however, are increasingly losing sales to foreign competitors because imports of OCTG have doubled since 2008 and increased by 61 percent thus far in 2014 compared to 2013. By some accounts, OCTG imports represent 50 percent of the pipes used for gas and oil drilling in the United States.  

Brown and Portman led the fight in urging the Administration to apply trade remedies against OCTG imports that violate trade law due to illegal subsidization or by selling at too low a price, a practice known as dumping. The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) investigated the dumping of OCTG into the U.S. market from nine countries, including India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. DOC also examined whether India and Turkey are unfairly subsidizing their OCTG producers. This was at the behest of nine petitioning companies, including JMC Steel in Warren, Vallourec Star in Youngstown, TMK IPSCO in Brookfield, and U. S. Steel in Lorain.   

Before its final ruling, DOC found that India had unfairly subsidized its OCTG producers, and that the imports of eight countries were dumped in American markets. This resulted in duties of about three to 118 percent being levied on their OCTG imports. DOC failed, though, to identify South Korea as dumping despite a majority of OCTG imports deriving from the country. Because South Korea has one of the world’s largest steel industries but no domestic OCTG market, its OCTG imports have recently increased by 40 percent and account for 20 percent of U.S. consumption. 

Brown testified before the ITC on behalf of American steel manufacturers, urging the commission to affirm the DOC ruling and, last month, Brown and Portman led a group of 57 Senators in sending a letter to DOC Secretary Penny Pritzker. The letter asked DOC to closely verify and further analyze the information submitted by the Korean producers to ensure its accuracy. Brown and Portman remained closely involved in this case. This followed a similar effort in which the senators wrote a 2013 letter to DOC raising concerns about this case and its importance to Ohio workers. Today’s ruling is a culmination those and other likeminded efforts.

This is also the second time Portman and Brown successfully fought together in urging DOC to protect Ohio based OCTG companies. In February, the senators applauded an announcement by DOC that it would maintain Antidumping Duties (AD) and Countervailing Duties (CVD) on Chinese steel pipe imports. Prior to its decision, Brown and Portman urged DOC to rule in favor of domestic steel manufacturers on a petition regarding product coverage for duties ordered on OCTG from China. 

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