Steel industry scores win with China non-market economy decision

Chinese workers weld steel at the Behlen Manufacturing plant last year on the outskirts of Beijing in 2015. The U.S. steel industry is hailing a decision to keep China a non-market economy, which leaves steel tariffs in place. 

The U.S. steel industry is heralding the U.S. Commerce Department's decision to keep China designated as a non-market economy.

China has sought to lift that designation, which domestic manufacturers say is necessary to maintain the tariffs they've secured in trade cases. The U.S. government currently enforces several anti-dumping tariffs.

“Fair international competition and a level playing field are essential for the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers," American Iron and Steel Institute President and CEO Thomas Gibson said. "China has not met the statutory criteria to be treated as a market economy, and we applaud our government’s commitment to ensuring China is not prematurely awarded market economy status."

China produces 10 times as much steel as the United States, according to the World Trade Association. U.S. steelmakers long have complained Chinese rivals have unfair advantages, such as heavy government subsidies that allow them to sell products abroad for less than fair market value with an eye toward gaining long-term market share.

"Substantial state intervention in the Chinese economy has resulted in significant overcapacity in many manufacturing sectors in China while also distorting global markets and hurting American manufacturers," Gibson said. "Jobs have been lost in all of our industries. China should not be afforded market economy status while still maintaining a state-controlled economic system that encourages unfair trade practices that injure multiple U.S. industries.”

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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.