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U.S. slaps steel tariffs on four countries

A worker walks through rows of ArcelorMittal coils in 2011 as they are loaded onto a ship bound for Macedonia from the Port of Indiana. The United States is imposing tariffs of up to 58 percent on imports from four countries. 

The United States has imposed tariffs on cold-rolled steel from Brazil, India, Korea, and the United Kingdom, but not on Russia.

The U.S. International Trade Commission locked in duties as high as 58 percent on cold-rolled steel flat products after the U.S Department of Commerce found imports from those four countries harmed U.S. steelmakers, who laid off an estimated 19,000 workers last year. Cold-rolled steel is used to make cars and appliances.

Brazil, India, Korea, Russia and the United Kingdom sent $514 million worth of cold-rolled products to U.S. ports in 2014. 

The ITC voted 5-1 last week in favor of tariffs on Brazil, India, Korea, and the United Kingdom. But it voted 6-0 to reject tariffs on Russia, after finding it sent a negligible amount of steel to the United States. The four other countries face duties of 58.36 percent or more, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Customs officials already have been collecting the tariffs and the final decision the ITC made locks the rates in.

ArcelorMittal, U.S. Steel, Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics and other U.S. steelmakers requested the tariffs last year amid a global import crisis when imports captured a record 29 percent of the market share, more than in the early 2000s, when more than 30 American steelmakers went bankrupt.

Steelmakers responded with layoffs, including more than 1,000 in Northwest Indiana last year. The effects continue to be felt, with the recent layoffs of about 75 maintenance workers and pay cuts for more than 200 more at U.S. Steel Gary Works.

So far, the company's have secured duties of more than 500 percent for imported steel products from China and other countries. The United States is also imposing new tariffs on hot-rolled steel, corrosion-resistant steel and structural tubing. 

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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.