U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and other members of the Congressional Steel Caucus are calling for a crackdown on the illegal dumping of steel that has been subsidized by foreign counties.
Visclosky and two dozen other members of Congress want the U.S. International Trade Commission to stop South Korea, India and seven other counties from flooding the U.S. market with unfairly traded steel that's used in oil and natural gas production.
U.S. Steel – which has local operations in Gary, East Chicago and Portage – and other domestic steelmakers have asked the federal agency to impose tariffs that would put a halt to the dumping.
Demand for steel pipe has surged because of a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas production in places like North Dakota. Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman with Enbridge Energy Partners LP, said her pipeline company cannot get steel pipe fast enough to keep up with the demand.
The oil and gas boom has led to a glut of cheap steel pipe imports from India, Korea, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam, according to a news release from the Congressional Steel Caucus. Imports from those nine counties reached $1.8 billion in 2012, more than double what it was two years earlier.
Members of Congress from both parties are concerned the steel import prices are artificially low because of subsidies, which violates trade laws.
"American steelworkers and domestic manufacturers have the skills and precision to compete with any foreign steel producers." said Visclosky, who is vice chairman of the Steel Caucus. "Throughout our region and around our country, we produce quality goods and we must ensure that inferior, subsidized steel from other nations is not illegally dumped in the U.S. This is a vital concern for our nation's steel producers, workers and our nation's public safety."
He and other members of the Steel Caucus are asking for anti-dumping duties that would drive up the cost of the foreign imports. In 2010, they successfully got tariffs imposed on steel from China, which had been the main source of dumped steel at the time.
"The ITC must ensure that these inferior subsidized products, from countries that willfully violate our nation's trade agreements, are not tolerated," Visclosky said.