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U.S. Steel Pipe Makers Win Trade Dumping Case

U.S. steel pipe manufacturers on Friday won their cases before an international tribunal, which affirmed the alleged dumping of underpriced steel pipe by counterparts in six nations, led by South Korea.

The domestic manufacturers had sought sanctions against two other nations, but the international panel rejected those charges.

In July, the U.S. Commerce Department responded to petitions from U.S.-based steelmakers by imposing a stiff tariff on steel pipe imported from South Korea and eight other nations (see Daily GPI, July 15). Steel companies and the U.S. steelworkers union pushed for the action.

Commerce's action sent the issue to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), where both the steel companies and the union argued that the domestic dumping has caused economic harm and/or threatens to do so. The ITC agreed regarding South Korea, India, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam, but it turned down any sanctions against the Philippines and Thailand. A ninth nation, Saudi Arabia, was dropped from the case last week.

U.S. steel companies filed the complaint last year as foreign manufacturers cashed in on the soaring U.S. shale boom that has boosted demand for new infrastructure, including oil and natural gas pipelines. Imports reportedly doubled in 2013, and two-thirds of the U.S. market was cornered by the foreign producers, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

In response to the U.S. government's early action, Canadian government officials started their own investigations of imports of oil/gas pipe from up to nine nations in an effort to thwart "dumping" of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) (see Daily GPI, July 25).

On Friday, the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) hailed the ITC's final determination upholding the imposition of added charges on OCTG imports from the six cited nations. "This is a resounding victory for a number of domestic steel producers, their employees and surrounding communities," said SMA President Philip Bell.

"Trade cases are a last resort due to the cost and uncertainty involved, as well as to the fact that injury has long since occurred before any remedy is seen. But they are also essential, as one of the few options available to ensure that our trading partners comply with the rules of international trade."

The ITC said the Commerce Department will issue "countervailing duty orders on imports of these products from India and Turkey and anti-dumping duty orders on imports of these products from India, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam."

Noting that in recent years U.S. steelmakers have made major investments to respond to the shale boom, SMA's Bell said the ITC determination is "a win not just for U.S. steel producers, but for the United States' economy as a whole." The boost in domestic steel production has meant thousands of new, high-paying jobs, he said.

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