After thousands of layoffs, idled mills, huge steelworker rallies and three separate trade cases, the federal government is going to start cracking down on imported steel.
The U.S. Department of Commerce made a preliminary determination that corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy and South Korea are getting government subsidies that are illegal under international trade laws.
The U.S. government will start imposing tariffs as high as 235.66 percent in the case of China.
"AK Steel is pleased that the Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that imports of corrosion-resistant steel are being unfairly subsidized," AK Steel President and Chief Executive Officer James Wainscott said in a statement.
"These determinations are an important step in ensuring that our foreign competitors play by the rules of fair trade. Action is urgently needed to counteract the significant injury that is being caused by unfairly traded imports."
The domestic steel industry suffered a painful contraction in the spring and filed a trade case in June.
Major domestic manufacturers, including ArcelorMittal USA and U.S. Steel, filed complaints against nearly every major importer of corrosion-resistant, hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel after imports market share hit a record 28 percent last year and rose even higher in 2015.
In the corrosion-resistant case, the Commerce Department found against every major steel importer except Taiwan. The ruling was that Taiwan got subsidies of less than 1 percent, exempting it from tariffs. The hot-rolled and cold-rolled cases are being pursued separately.
A final ruling on corrosion-resistant imports is expected around Dec. 21. Duties could apply retroactively through Aug. 4.
Imports have gobbled up 30 percent of market share and also caused flat-rolled prices to fall by $20 per ton in the third quarter, largely because China is dumping steel internationally for an average of $75 less than what it costs to make.