The U.S. International Trade Commission is clamping down on steel dumping, at least in one small market.
The federal agency ruled Tuesday that low-cost imports on welded stainless steel pressure pipe from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have hurt domestic steelmakers. As a result of the ruling the U.S. Department of Commerce will impose tariffs designed to discourage dumping.
Antidumping and countervailing tariffs will remain in place on Chinese pressure pipe imports for another five years, after all six commissioners voted that lifting those duties now would result in more economic damage.
"I am pleased that the ITC sent the message today that we will not tolerate illegal trade," Congressman Pete Visclosky said. "My commitment to our steelworkers and the Northwest Indiana economy is unwavering, and I will not stop working to prevent illegal steel from being dumped on our shores."
The big integrated mills in Northwest Indiana do not make stainless steel, but stainless steel products are processed and distributed by local service centers, including Berlin Metals in Hammond and Metal Processing Corp. in Gary.
Seven companies, which collectively employ 289 workers, make welded stainless steel pressure pipe in Wisconsin and six other states. U.S. manufacturers produced 28,530 short tons of welded stainless steel pressure pipe worth about $49.9 million last year, while the United States consumed an estimated 63,294 short tons of it.
Schaumberg-based Outokumpu Stainless Pipe Inc., Wisconsin-based Felker Brothers Corp. and Tennessee-based Bristol Metals filed a trade case against the $70.9 million in imports that flooded the market last year.
The steel industry is suffering from what some call the worst import crisis in a decade. Steelworkers and iron ore miners have been staging Save our Steel rallies across the country, and a major decision on oil country tubular goods is expected in the next few weeks.
Locally, the United Steelworkers have been sending letters and emails to lawmakers, asking them to block imports that already have resulted in the indefinite idling of U.S. Steel tubular facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania.
"It's costing U.S. jobs, and could cost more down the road," USW District 7 director Mike Millsap said. "It's hurting the U.S. as a whole. It absolutely needs to stop."