EDITORIAL: Steel forges national, job security

2013-08-22T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Steel forges national, job security nwitimes.com
August 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Steel's strength is important not just for structural components but also the economy and national security.

As the domestic steel industry competes in the global marketplace, it's vital to make sure that competition is fair.

American steelmakers can hold their own in the international market, as long as the playing field is level. Unfortunately, it isn't.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., and other members of the Congressional Steel Caucus have asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate whether foreign steelmakers are dumping subsidized steel in the United States. The unfair subsidies from foreign governments allow those countries' steel products to be sold at low prices.

The commission issued a preliminary finding Friday that Indian, South Korea and seven other countries are flooding the U.S. with cheap steel for gas and oil pipelines.

ArcelorMittal makes pipeline materials at its East Chicago plant, although U.S. Steel doesn't. However, the principle still matters because the health of the parent companies of the local steel mills is at stake.

Steel is a vital component of the region's economy. High-wage steel industry jobs cause major ripples throughout the local economy, creating jobs in other sectors.

Steel is also a vital component of military hardware, so the health of the domestic steel industry is important to national security.

U.S. Steel -- which has plants in East Chicago, Gary and Portage -- and several other major steelmakers field a complaint alleging trade laws were being violated.

With the U.S. International Trade Commission's ruling Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce will investigate whether the imports are below fair market value and whether tariffs should be imposed to raise the prices of those imports accordingly.

These unfair subsidies result in a practice we call "dumping" because it unfairly dumps artificially underpriced steel in the United States.

We've gone down this road before, insisting on fairness in the marketplace, but we need to continue on it as long as necessary.

It's important for national security, not just job security, to protect domestic steel operations from unfair competition.

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