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Steel jobs under attack, Visclosky says

Steel jobs under attack, Visclosky says

The American steel industry is under attack, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky said while warning Washington regulators about the threat posed to U.S. steelmakers by government-subsidized imports from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Visclosky testified to the International Trade Commission on Thursday that dumped welded stainless steel pipe harmed the domestic industry and jeopardized jobs.

“Members of the Commission, American steel jobs are under attack from foreign competitors, and not just from illegal subsidies and dumping activities,” he said. “This past week you may have seen the headlines indicating that the Chinese military was hacking into the computers of steel company employees and members of the United Steelworkers. I know that the response to that type of action is not under your jurisdiction, but I am deeply alarmed by these allegations. Foreign competitors are stopping at nothing to steal our information, flood our markets, and take our jobs. We have a duty to protect American workers, and this case before today is an essential component of that protection.”

Steel pipe makers, including Schaumburg-based Outokumpu, asked the trade commission to investigate whether foreign countries were violating international trade laws by flooding the U.S. market with cheap subsidized pipe. Imports have soared this year to capture 25 percent of the total market. Steelmakers have ratcheted up pressure on Washington to take action, and steelworkers around the countries have been staging “Save our Steel Jobs” rallies.

ArcelorMittal USA CEO Michael Rippey has described it as a “full-out assault,” and U.S. Steel senior vice president for North American Flat-Rolled Operations Douglas Matthews has said jobs all across the industry are at risk.

Witnesses repeatedly testified at Congressional Steel Caucus hearing in March on the state of the steel industry that the United States is currently a dumping ground for cheap steel from foreign countries, Visclosky said. 

“They all stressed that we must take action not to protect American jobs and ensure the survival of the American steel industry,” he said.

Visclosky said bold and decision action was needed similar to what Washington did when many steelmakers were going bankrupt around the year 2000. Congress passed legislation establishing a steel import and monitoring program, and the International Trade Commission opened a safeguard investigation that led to import relief.

Last year, the Department of Commerce ruled margins for anti-dumping duties range from 22.7 percent to 167.11 percent in Malaysia, from 7.16 percent to 10.92 percent in Thailand and from 17.72 percent to 53.91 percent in Vietnam.

“These numbers should compel us to take action in this case and send the message to Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and all the other steel producing countries of the world, that America will not tolerate one ton of illegal steel,” Visclosky said.


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