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U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, testified Tuesday before the International Trade Commission in support of more tariffs on Chinese steel.

The federal agency is weighing tariffs with anti-dumping margins of up to 302 percent and subsidy offsets of up to 111 percent on Chinese-made cast iron soil pipe.

"As you know, cast iron soil pipe is used in our commercial infrastructure, including in stadiums and high-rises, for plumbing, drainage and ventilation," Visclosky said during the hearing. "This strong piping can last for decades, thus creating durable and sustainable development in commercial sectors throughout our economy."

The federal government has more than 240 tariffs on steel products from around the globe that have been subsidized or dumped at a loss in violation of U.S. trade law. That does not include the Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent that were imposed on all foreign-made steel last year.

Steel accounts for more than half of the 467 total tariffs imposed on imports by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

"Some have argued that all the challenges of the American steel industry have been solved by the recent Section 232 or Section 301 tariffs, but I would point out that despite cast iron soil pipe from China being subject to 10 percent tariffs under Section 301, this case indicates that the U.S. industry is still being harmed by illegal trade activity," Visclosky said. "I remain seriously concerned that China continues to be a repeat offender of U.S. trade laws. We cannot let one more sector of our domestic industry be harmed by such unfair competition. We must remain vigilant and send an irrefutable message to repeat offenders that illegal trade will not be tolerated."

China imported American-made steel as recently as the 2000s but has since built up the biggest steel industry the world has ever seen. The World Trade Association estimates China made a record 928.3 tons of steel last year, more than 10 times more than any other country. 

China's production has made it a major exporter and is widely blamed by industry observers for disrupting the world market for steel. The U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed multiple tariffs on Chinese-made steel products in recent years.

"I thank the commission for conducting this critical investigation into cast iron soil pipe from China, and I urge an affirmative decision for enacting trade remedies in order to ensure our domestic producers can compete on a level playing field," Visclosky said.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.