U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative Decisions Undercutting Essential Steel Safeguard Relief
The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on June 24 exclusions from the Section 201 steel tariff relief for 116 additional products -- a number of which are being granted over the objection of the American steel industry. The domestic industry has limited its objections to situations where the exact product -- or a functionally interchangeable equivalent -- is available domestically. This action, which the domestic industry strongly opposes, represents a continuation of the serious erosion of the bold action taken by President Bush on March 6 of this year to provide trade relief to America's steel producers and their workers who have been devastated by imports. The President's measures are vital to the recovery of the domestic steel industry. Cheap foreign imports originating from countries that have closed their own markets and subsidized their producers, have caused wide damage throughout the American industry. Particularly hard hit were steel mills and communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and Alabama.
Thomas J. Usher, Chairman, CEO and President of United States Steel Corporation, stated, "It is clear that pressure by foreign governments to undermine the President's action is very strong. Many of the products now being excluded from relief are products that American steelworkers and American steel plants are ready and able to make. There is no legitimate reason to exempt these foreign imports from the President's remedy." Mr. Usher also said that "if such exemptions continue, it threatens to largely undermine the relief the President has granted."
Robert S. Miller, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Bethlehem Steel, also raised strong objection to "unjustified exemptions," stating that "as the USTR grants exemption after exemption over the objection of the American steel industry, it sends a signal to American workers that foreign steel producers will again be able to unload their excess steel capacity into the U.S. market." Mr. Miller also said that "there are hundreds of additional pending requests for exemptions. We urge the Bush Administration to reject requests for any exemptions on products that can be made by the American steel industry." Mr. Miller emphasized that "granting a large number of exemptions will negate the original purpose of the President's imposition of tariffs -- the recovery of the American steel industry."
The industry also urges the Administration to strictly limit the volume of imports that may enter the U.S. market under an approved exclusion. Indeed, no party should be able to import more steel under an exclusion than it did the previous year. Failure to limit exclusions in this manner could significantly undermine the President's steel program.
SOURCE: Bethlehem Steel Corporation; United States Steel Corporation
CONTACT: Robert W. Bilheimer of Bethlehem Steel Corporation,
Web site: http://www.ussteel.com/
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