NEW YORK Thomas Steel
Strip Corp. has filed an anti-dumping trade petition with the
Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade
Commission, alleging that nickel-plated steel from Japan is
injuring the U.S. industry.
The Warren, Ohio-based
manufacturer, a division of Indias Tata Steel Ltd.,
argues that diffusion-annealed nickel-plated flat-rolled steel
products imported from Japan have not only depressed U.S.
prices, but also have caused a loss of market share and
squeezed profits, according to a March 27 petition filed
simultaneously with both federal agencies.
Thomas Steel Strip said it is
the only U.S. producer of annealed nickel-plated steel, which
uses cold-rolled sheet, tin mill black plate or stainless steel
as a substrate.
Much of Thomas Steel
Strips product is used for alkaline batteries, for which
there is no substitute for nickel-plated steel, the petition
said. A decade ago, Thomas Steel Strip was the primary supplier
of nickel plate to such customers as Procter & Gamble
Co.s Duracell unit, Energizer Holdings Inc. and Rayovac,
a division of Spectrum Brands, according to the petition. At
that time, Japanese imports were consumed by Panasonic Primary
Battery Corp. of America and its affiliated battery can maker,
Panasonic Battery Corp. of America.
However, when Panasonic Primary
Battery closed its U.S. operations in 2007, Japanese producers
allegedly targeted and seized market share from Thomas Steel
"Under pressure from Japanese
imports ... Thomas Steel Strip was forced to reduce prices
during contract negotiations in late 2011," the petition said.
"Then again, in March 2012, Thomas Steel Strip was forced to
reduce prices to meet competition from Japanese nickel
Some 12,483 tonnes of
nickel-plated steel was imported into the United States from
Japan last year vs. 9,785 tonnes in 2011 and 11,077 tonnes in
2010, the petition said. The average value of nickel plate for
AA batteries fell to about $1 per pound in the third quarter of
2012 from $1.40 in the second quarter of 2011.
"Having lost significant sales
volumes ... Thomas Steel Strip reduced prices on average to
compete with dumped imports ... from 2011 to 2012," the
petition said. "Moreover ... Thomas Steel Strips raw
material costs were increasing over the same period. Thus, the
dumped imports prevented Thomas Steel Strip from achieving
higher price levels justified by rising costs, particularly in
2012. As such, Thomas Steel Strip was caught in a cost-price
squeeze, resulting in operating losses in 2012."
In the past, nickel-plated steel
was covered by a dumping duty order on corrosion-resistant
carbon steel flat products from Japan, although it did not
cover all specifications of nickel-plated steel. The order on
Japanese products was terminated in 2007 following a sunset
amm.com, Dec. 21, 2006).
The 66-page trade petition is
the first steel-related case filed in more than a year. Oak
Brook, Ill.-based Elkay Manufacturing Co. successfully
petitioned for dumping and subsidy duties on imports of
stainless sinks from China (
amm.com, March 21).
Neither Thomas Steel Strip nor
any foreign producers could be reached for comment.