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U.S. slaps tariffs of up to 265.79 on Vietnamese, Chinese steel

An ArcelorMittal Riverdale steelworker monitors a hot strip of steel during the descale process. The U.S. Department of Commerce is cracking down on imports that threaten American steelworker jobs.

Provided by ArcelorMittal

The U.S. Department of Commerce is slapping tariffs as high as 265.79 percent on foreign-made steel.

The federal agency announced it would impose antidumping and countervailing tariffs of between 39.05 percent and 199.43 percent on imports of corrosion-resistant steel made in Vietnam with substrate from China. It further imposed duties of 256.44 percent to 265.79 percent on cold-rolled steel from Vietnam made with Chinese substrate.

"Shipments of CORE from Vietnam to the United States increased from two million dollars to $80 million after preliminary duties were imposed on Chinese products in 2015," the U.S. Department of Commerce said in a news release. "Likewise, shipments of cold-rolled steel from Vietnam to the United States increased from nine million dollars to $215 million after preliminary duties were imposed on Chinese products in 2015."

U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal USA, Nucor, Steel Dynamics, AK Steel and California Steel Industries asked for an investigation, alleging that Chinese and Vietnamese steelmakers blew off international trade laws. They charged that China was ducking existing U.S. tariffs by routing steel through Vietnam.

“The Commerce Department’s finding of circumvention represents a critical step to shutting down one of the many paths used to flood the U.S. with dumped and subsidized steel," U.S. Steel said in a statement. "This decision presents an encouraging sign for the steel industry and should put other countries and companies on notice that their cheating will no longer be tolerated. We urge Secretary Ross and President Trump to continue to aggressively crack down on unfairly traded steel imports, including immediate and broad action in the Section 232 investigation on steel imports and national security.

The decision is preliminary, but Customers and Border Protection agents are already collecting the tariffs on steel shipped to U.S. ports.

A definitive ruling setting the final tariff rates could come as early as February.  

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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.