Hoosier Steel Industry Concerns Aired in Washington

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The Indiana Harbor operations in East Chicago cover 3,100 acres. The Indiana Harbor operations in East Chicago cover 3,100 acres.

Steel industry stakeholders urged the U.S. International Trade Commission Thursday to take action against what they say are unfairly-traded imports. Indiana produces more steel than any other state. Leaders including the CEO of ArcelorMittal, which has a major presence in northwest Indiana, and Congressman Pete Visclosky (D-1) are pushing for stiffer regulations they say would help level out the market for domestic producers.

Visclosky singled out hot-rolled steel products, saying Hoosier workers and employers are "being cheated out of the opportunity to compete fairly" by steelmakers in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In testimony, Visclosky said:

I also am seriously concerned that the countries being investigated in this case are not first-time offenders. There have been eight new steel cases considered by the Commission and the Department of Commerce this year. Of these eight cases, Korea has been investigated in five. China has been investigated in four. Turkey, Brazil, and Japan, have been investigated in three. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, and India have been investigated in two. While I appreciate that the Commission has in some of these cases acted to hold countries accountable by issuing affirmative determinations, we must stop this dangerous trend. The world is watching to see if the United States will send an irrefutable message to these repeat offenders that illegal trade will not be tolerated. It is past time to stop illegal trade.

ArcelorMittal USA CEO John Brett said the cheaper foreign steel flooding the U.S. markets, much of which he contends arrived here as "unfairly traded" imports, forced a collapse in the domestic market that has led to layoffs and other cost-cutting decision in recent years. In March, ArcelorMittal idled a plant at the Indiana Harbor facility in East Chicago, costing some 300 jobs. He said:

A reasonable return is one that permits us to reinvest in the business, service debt, and have profits left to fund our employee obligations and provide dividends to our shareholders. When huge volumes of unfairly traded imports disrupt the market with low priced offerings, the volumes and prices necessary to achieve those reasonable returns become more difficult, if not impossible, to attain. Unfortunately, that is precisely what the domestic hot-rolled steel industry has faced over the last couple of years - a surge in hot-rolled steel imports from the subject countries at prices that took sales volume and market share and eventually led to a collapse in U.S. market prices. This surge did not occur because the domestic industry could not produce the hot-rolled steel required by the market or deliver it to certain parts of the country.  Contrary to some of the claims you may have heard from the foreign producers, the domestic industry generally can, and does, produce all of the hot-rolled steel products that the market demands.

In closing, Brett requested the same relief for hot-rolled steel that has been provided already to the cold-rolled and corrosion resistant products.

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