U.S. Rep Pete Visclosky is calling for a crackdown on illegal South Korean imports of oil and gas drill pipe that have already led U.S. Steel to shutter two plants.
Visclosky, D-Ind., and more than 150 other federal lawmakers are urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to put a stop to steel dumping that caused the indefinite closure of U.S. Steel plants in Pennsylvania and Texas. TMK Ipsco also cited unfairly priced imports as the reason for idling a Kentucky mill, and reducing hours at plants in Kentucky, Arkansas and Iowa.
"This is a pivotal time for the American steelworkers, as foreign competitors are stopping at nothing to flood our markets with cheap steel," Visclosky said. "We must do more to enforce our trade laws, defend American manufacturing and protect the thousands of steelworker jobs in Northwest Indiana."
Steel imports captured 27 percent of the overall market in May, according to federal Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis data.
The United States in particular is being flooded by imports of oil country tubular goods products, which have doubled since 2008 because of the boom in shale gas exploration in North America. Tubular imports have risen by 61 percent so far this year.
Steel pipe from South Korea alone has increased by 1,000 percent over the past four years, even though the country has no domestic market.
"Steel and other manufacturers continue to face significant competitive challenges from the trade-distorting policies and practices of foreign governments, including subsidies and dumping," said Thomas Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute. "These unfair trade practices have led to surges in imports that take market share from domestic producers and have forced job layoffs."
About 8,000 steelworkers across the United States make oil and gas pipe products. Steel Caucus members however fear more plant closures and layoffs if nothing is done to stop the dumping on unfairly subsidized imports.
The U.S. Department of Commerce ruled in February that Korean imports could continue without tariffs. The congressmen sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker asking her to reverse that decision
"The administration must enforce the law and put an end to Korean trade crimes that are costing American workers their jobs," said Steel Caucus Chairman Time Murphy. "Since August, the Congressional Steel Caucus has sounded the alarm in hearings, in letters and at rallies with workers. I hope the administration will finally wake up and see the damage to our economy caused by Korean trade crimes."