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Imports still a threat to US tube, pipe producers: panel

Keywords: Tags  OCTG, pipe imports, steel tube, Barry Zekelman, Robert Mandel, JMC Steel, Welded Tube of Canada, South Korea pipe Thorsten Schier

NEW YORK — Executives at North American tube and pipe producers still see imports as a significant threat to the domestic industry.

"This stuff is coming here and attacking our shores," Barry M. Zekelman, executive chairman of Chicago-based JMC Steel Group Inc., said during a panel discussion at AMM’s 6th annual Steel Tube and Pipe Conference.

"You can’t tell me they’re making it cheaper than we do here. No way. We have the cheapest iron ore, we have the cheapest natural gas, we have the transportation system," he said, adding that labor is
"a tiny component in the selling price of tube."

Responding to an audience question about trade cases, Robert S. Mandel, president and chief executive officer of Concord, Ontario-based Welded Tube of Canada Ltd., said that a dumping case against Chinese tube and pipe producers a few years ago had effectively halted those imports.

"We see virtually no Chinese pipe now," he said, calling trade cases "a tool that the industry will continue to assiduously promote."

Zekelman agreed that the industry will continue to battle what it considers unfairly traded imports, even though audience members noted that stopping one country from bringing in pipe often leads to others replacing them. "It’s a game of whack-a-mole, but we’ll continue to do it," he said.

Import license applications for welded oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from South Korea, a country often singled out as the target of a possible anti-dumping case, reached 97,817 tonnes in January, the highest level in more than a year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Import Administration division (, Feb. 6).

Besides potential trade cases, U.S. capacity expansions could also crimp imports.

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