With Major Trade Case Looming, Sen. Brown Joins Local Business Leaders and Steelworkers to Urge Obama Administration to Protect Mahoning Valley Manufacturers from Unfair Foreign Competition

Oil Steel Tube Imports have Doubled Since 2008; Commerce Department to Rule if Korea is Unfairly Dumping its Steel in U.S. Market, Costing Americans Jobs

WARREN, OH Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Mahoning Valley workers to call on the Obama Administration to protect Ohio steel manufacturers and the jobs they support. Inside the mill of Wheatland Tube/JMC Steel in Warren, Brown and local steelworkers urged the U.S. Commerce Department (DOC) to crack down on countries that unfairly dump their steel in the U.S. market, threatening American jobs and competitiveness.

“Mahoning Valley steelmakers and workers can compete against anyone in the world—when given access to a level playing field,” Brown said. “But American producers are increasingly losing sales to foreign competitors like South Korea because OCTG imports are being dumped into the U.S. market. Full enforcement of our trade laws is critical for the future of this industry and its workers.” 

JMC Steel is one of nine companies—along with Vallourec Star in Youngstown, TMK IPSCO in Brookfield, and U. S. Steel in Lorain—that has petitioned DOC to take steps against imports of Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG). Brown is leading the fight to urge 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 (dumping) and harming the competitiveness of American businesses and workers. DOC is investigating 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.

In its preliminary ruling, DOC found that the imports of eight countries were dumped in American markets, resulting 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. Last month, Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) led a group of 57 Senators in sending a letter to DOC Secretary Penny Pritzker. The letter asks DOC to closely verify and further analyze the information submitted by the Korean producers to ensure its accuracy.

OCTG is 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 in more than 22 states. 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.  

Joining Brown to call on DOC to level the playing field for Valley workers and businesses was Nicholas Shubat, the General Manager for JMC Steel’s energy division (EnergeX); and Steven Chalenor, the President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9306.  

Brown continues to fight for Mahoning Valley’s workers and its steel and manufacturing industries. Described as “Congress’ leading proponent of American Manufacturing,” Brown is a member of the Senate Manufacturing Caucus, currently Vice-Chair of the Senate Auto Caucus, and was recently named incoming Chair of the Senate Steel Caucus.

In October 2012, Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-17) visited Wheatland Tube to meet with workers and release an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report outlining the importance of trade law enforcement to manufacturing jobs in the Mahoning Valley. In September 2010, Brown testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on behalf of steel workers in the Mahoning Valley. The ITC conducted a hearing on whether unfairly subsidized seamless steel tube imports from China were having an adverse impact on steel workers in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

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