A long hit list and a legal strategy to bust trade barriers

Nov 01, 2008 | 05:13 AM |

Roller-coaster pricing of raw materials has drawn attention to how some governments might try to keep resources from leaving their territory. Nucor Corp., with steel scrap as its chief input, wants to make sure that such action is included in Washington's agenda on trade distortions.

John Ferriola, chief operating officer of the Charlotte, N.C.-based company's steelmaking operations, sees lessons to be learned from the 2007-08 price run-up.

"Some of the reasons (it occurred) relate to supply and demand and natural market forces at work," he said. "However, unfair trade practices played a role as well. The United States, with a comparatively liberal trade regime, exports a large amount of steel scrap to other nations. Many other nations have erected substantial trade barriers to restrict steel scrap exports and maintain their scrap for their own domestic use." Such barriers also keep their domestic scrap cheaper than world levels, he added.

Ferriola can list 25 countries with restrictions, most belonging to the World Trade Organization. However, Russia is outside the WTO and can't be dealt with through that machinery. As such, Nucor helped establish an organization to lobby against these obstacles.....

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