Steelmakers, union officials and Congressman Frank Mrvan testified before the International Trade Commission in favor of maintaining the 25% tariffs on most steel imports, as well as tariffs on China.
The ITC, a judicial body that oversees trade disputes, had a hearing on the economic impact of the tariffs, which were widely credited with lifting steel prices and helping steelmakers invest in new operations, such as the $60 million pig iron caster being built at Gary Works.
"As you know, Northwest Indiana is home to an incredible steel and manufacturing industry and workforce," Mrvan testified.
The success of the domestic steel industry is critical to the livelihoods of individuals, families, and communities in the First Congressional District of Indiana and also to our national security and communities throughout the country," he testified.
"As the co-chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus, we have been active in taking every opportunity to express our support for the value of section 232 tariffs," Mrvan said. "One of our first actions was sending a letter in February of 2021 with over 50 signatures from members of the Steel Caucus to the administration expressing support for the continuation of these tariffs."
Union and company officials at the recent Congressional Steel Caucus hearing on the state of the steel industry credited the tariffs with keeping 544 million tons of global steelmaking overcapacity at bay, preventing it from wiping out the domestic steel industry with a deluge of cheap imports.
"As we move forward, we must continue to work to ensure that the American steel industry can compete on a level playing field so that our innovative companies and skilled workforce can remain the foundation of our national economy and our national security," Mrvan said.
"Thank you again for the opportunity to testify and for your daily public service to fully and fairly enforce our trade laws," he said.
Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul testified that lifting the tariffs now would be "ill-conceived and inherently flawed."
“Until an enforceable global agreement can be reached to curtail overcapacity and state-led investments, the Section 232 action must remain in place for the sake of our economic and national security," Paul said.
"Likewise, removing Section 301 tariffs on Chinese imports would be ill-conceived and inherently flawed given China’s continued reliance on market-distorting policies, acts, and practices," he said.
The Alliance of American Manufacturing is a joint endeavor by the United Steelworkers Union and leading manufacturers.
The Alliance of American Manufacturing made the case that trade enforcement measures would only benefit China and fail to make a dent in inflation.
It noted that a complete rollback would have at best a one-time reduction of 0.3 of a percentage point, according to Barclay's.
The damage to the steel industry and steelworkers would be much longer-lasting, Paul said.
“Abandoning or eroding the Section 301 tariffs would discard our negotiating leverage, be the optimal outcome for President Xi, and subject U.S. producers and American workers to a flood of imports," he said.
“Rolling back Section 301 tariffs, however, would do little to nothing to address inflation," he said, "and would, instead, benefit China’s Communist Party and China’s manufacturing sector, which would make up the difference by increasing prices."
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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.
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