Industry comment: Twists, turns and treacherous curves in steel trade protection

Aug 28, 2014 | 03:09 PM | Richard Chriss

Tags  steel, steel trade, American Institute for Imported Steel, AIIS, Richard Chriss, Economic Policy Institute, EPI, Stewart and Stewart U.S. trade laws

The flurry of critiques about the alleged role of steel imports in the financial troubles of some elements of our domestic steel industry, most recently in the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) sector, reminds me of a recent visit to a remarkable gallery exhibition of a prominent American abstract Impressionist artist.

Impressionist painters sought a visceral, emotional response to their work by throwing out the old norms and turning to new techniques to try to capture momentary effects of light and movement. Their objective was to create an overall visual effect, not achieve precise visual clarity through careful attention to detail.

Similarly, when listening to the views of some who are advocating trade restrictions as a significant or primary response to market challenges in the OCTG sector—individuals who are sincere, accomplished, talented and well-meaning—I can’t help but wonder if what we are hearing is a heartfelt but somewhat reflexive response to difficult, complicated issues at the expense of a closer, longer and more-comprehensive look at important and relevant details.

In the interest of clarity, I would like to bring some of these details into focus.

First, given the depth and reach of the U.S. steel supply chain, it is important to appreciate who the U.S. steel industry is, as well as what it is.....

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