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Visclosky: Imports hurting Region steelmakers

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky testified before the International Trade Commission for more steel tariffs.

John J. Watkins, The Times

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, lobbied for the ongoing continuation of steel tariffs before the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is weighing whether to extend 18-year-old duties on cut-to-length carbon-quality steel plate from India, Indonesia and South Korea.

ArcelorMittal makes the plate at its Burns Harbor Plate Mill.

"As a representative and resident of Northwest Indiana, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing the American steel industry due to the onslaught of illegal steel imports," Visclosky said during testimony at a hearing in Washington, D.C. "The ArcelorMittal facility at Burns Harbor in Northwest Indiana makes cut-to-length carbon-quality steel plate, and every one of those dedicated workers deserve to be able to continue to fairly compete and make the best steel to the best of their ability in our global economy."

The United States has imposed tariffs of up to 72.49 percent on plate from India, Indonesia and South Korea since 2000, and the tariffs were renewed twice – in 2005 and again in 2011, according to the International Trade Commission. Visclosky said the duties — meant to offset subsidies and steel dumping — should stay in place at a time when imports were up more than 17 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

He said duties were still needed since U.S. steel plate manufacturers operated at only 59 percent capacity from 2015 through most of 2017, and was only 70 percent at the end of last year.

"We can do better and we will do better when countries around the world know without doubt that we do not allow unfairly traded products into our market," Visclosky testified in Washington. "I am pleased to be able to stand here today to testify before the commission during the third review, and to again state our steelworkers remain under the constant threat of illegal imports, and should the current trade remedies be removed they would again face a new explicit threat of material injury."

Visclosky described cut-to-length carbon-quality steel plate as an "essential component of American infrastructure." It's used in Navy vessels and also to build bridges, railway equipment, barges, ships and refinery tanks across the nation.

"It is essential for both our national defense and our national economy, and we cannot afford to threaten our production capabilities," Visclosky said.


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.