Sens. Brown and Portman Urge Commerce Department to Defend Ohio Steel Producers from Illegal Chinese Trade Practices

Ahead of Commerce Department Ruling on Chinese Steel Products, Brown and Portman Continue to Fight to Ensure Ohio Companies Like U. S. Steel Aren’t Harmed by Unfair and Illegal Chinese Trade Practices

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) urged the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to protect Ohio-based companies like U.S. Steel from illegal Chinese trade practices by maintaining antidumping duties (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD) on Chinese steel pipe imports. Their effort comes in advance of an upcoming DOC ruling on a petition regarding product coverage for duties ordered on Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) from China. The letter led by Brown and Portman was also signed by 10 of their Senate colleagues.

“The Commerce Department needs to do everything in its power to protect the American steel industry and the domestic workers and businesses it supports,” Brown said. “That means not allowing countries like China to use loopholes to circumvent international law and evade anti-dumping and countervailing duties. This puts our country's steel industry on an unfair playing field while it's already in the midst of a fragile recovery. That is why the Commerce Department needs to follow through on its preliminary ruling in favor of American steel, and see to it that China no longer can get away with unfair and illegal trade practices that hurt our economy, and put our jobs at risk.”  

“Ohio-based companies that produce Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) support many good jobs in our state,” Portman said. “Unfortunately, our businesses and thousands of American workers are at risk if important trade protections are watered-down, allowing cheap Chinese products to flood our domestic markets. American manufactured goods must be allowed to compete with their global competitors on a level playing field.”

Brown and Portman have long championed the American steel industry and fought to ensure it can compete fairly against some illegal Chinese trade practices and in the international market. Earlier this year, Brown and Portman applauded U. S. Steel’s announcement that it would consider expanding its steeling operations in Lorain. Portman and Brown’s efforts were vital to ensuring U.S. Steel was provided necessary relief from Chinese steel pipe imports, and as a result, could maintain its facility in Lorain or potentially expand its operations.

This is the third letter that Brown and Portman have sent to support Ohio’s OCTG manufacturers.  In December 2012, Portman and Brown led a group of senators in urging the Commerce Department to maintain AD and CVD on Chinese steel pipe imports.  They also sent a joint letter on this issue in May 2013.

Today’s letter—led by Brown and Portman—was also signed by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

The letter can be read in its entirety below:

The Honorable Penny S. Pritzker

Secretary of Commerce

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230


Dear Secretary Pritzker:

We are writing to follow up on an issue that continues to be of vital importance to our constituents – namely, the need for continued strong enforcement of the existing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on oil country tubular goods (“OCTG”) from China.  The orders have provided much needed relief to our industry and workers, who were subjected to massive injury from the influx of dumped and subsidized OCTG from China in 2008 and 2009.

We understand that within a few weeks the Department of Commerce intends to issue the final results of a scope inquiry to determine whether minor finishing (such as heat treating) of OCTG from China in third countries is enough to change its "country of origin" for purposes of the AD/CVD orders and to exempt it from trade relief.  In May, the Department preliminarily determined that such minor finishing is not enough to change the country of origin of Chinese OCTG.  We applaud that ruling and greatly appreciate the hard work and extensive fact-finding and analysis that went into it.  While the preliminary scope determination was focused specifically on the finishing of Chinese OCTG in Indonesia, it nevertheless is a critical determination that confirms the original intent of the orders and has broad applicability to all potential third country processing of Chinese-origin OCTG. 

As it prepares its final results, we urge the Department to keep in mind the critical importance of this issue for our workers and the U.S. industry as a whole.  The U.S. OCTG  industry believes that any finding that minor finishing of Chinese OCTG in third countries is enough to alter its country of origin would be unsupported by the evidence and would open a  large loophole in the AD and CVD orders and encourage rampant circumvention and evasion.  In this regard, we understand that it would be a relatively simple matter for Chinese producers to take advantage of the numerous finishing operations that exist around the world, or to set up new operations to evade the existing trade relief.  That outcome would be inconsistent with the purpose and scope of the existing trade orders on China, and would threaten the U.S. OCTG industry and workers with enormous additional harm.

As you know, these orders have been vitally important to the U.S. industry and American steel workers.  After being devastated by a massive wave of dumped and subsidized Chinese imports that negatively impacted this market in a matter of months, the U.S. industry is now in a fragile recovery.  Opening a new path to circumvention of the orders would severely threaten that recovery and the relief from unfair trade that our companies and workers fought so hard to achieve.

Accordingly, we urge you to make sure that the Department is interpreting these orders as intended and as needed to ensure that they are effective.