Senators push for protecting steel producers from imported rebar

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are supporting efforts that they say will ensure that U.S. steel producers in Mississippi and other states are protected from imported steel reinforcing bar, or “rebar.”

Cochran and Wicker are encouraging Meredith Broadbent, chairman of the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), to protect the U.S. rebar industry by supporting antidumping duties on imports unfairly supported with foreign government subsidies. The ITC is in the final phase of antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on reinforcing rebar imported from Mexico and Turkey.

“The imposition of antidumping duties is a matter of competitive fairness, particularly when imbalanced trade practices impact the livelihoods of workers in Mississippi and other steel producing states,” Cochran said. “We are simply asking the ITC to support an American industry beset by government-subsidized foreign steel products.”

Cochran and Wicker are among 36 senators who have signed a letter to Broadbent that highlights the hardships experienced by the U.S. steel industry during the recession and the threat posed to its recovery by cut-rate foreign-made rebar dumped on the market.

The senators wrote: “Since 2010, these imports have flooded the U.S. market at the direct expense of U.S. producers, who have seen their share of the market drop dramatically.  Capacity utilization rates are at historically low levels — near 60 percent — and production levels have yet to recover from the recession.

“On behalf of the U.S. rebar industry and the workers and their families who depend on full and fair enforcement of our trade laws for their survival, we urge you to give careful consideration to their arguments regarding investigations involving Turkey and Mexico  It is essential that foreign subsidies and dumping be addressed in order to prevent further harm to the U.S. rebar industry and the unwarranted loss of American jobs.”

The ITC began its review of the Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar from Mexico and Turkey Inv. Nos. 701 TA-502 and 731-TA-1227-1228 (Final Phase) case in September 2013. The primary petitioner is the Rebar Trade Action Coalition. Nucor Corp., which has operations in Starkville and Flowood, is a member of the coalition. The ITC petition indicates that the case affects nine producers with facilities in 23 states that employed 4,167 workers in 2012.

This past April, the Mississippi senators signed correspondence to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to highlight unfair trade practices associated with Turkish and Mexican steel imports. Rebar imports from those two countries have doubled since 2010 and continue to surge, according to a joint news release from Cochran and Wicker.

Last year, Cochran and Wicker were part of a similar case involving the extension of existing antidumping duties now imposed on rebar produced in China, Indonesia, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Moldova and Poland. They were among a dozen senators who argued that extending the duties would be critical to protecting American-made rebar imports that are illegally undercutting the U.S. market. As part of that effort, they pointed out that a November 2012 review by the U.S. Department of Commerce found that if the antidumping orders were not maintained, producers in these seven countries would resume dumping rebar into the United States at margins ranging from 16.99 percent to 232.86 percent.

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