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Senators oppose Firth Rixson's push to import duty-free titanium

Keywords: Tags  titanium, Firth Rixson, titanium billet, Sherrod Brown, Rob Rortman, Robert Casey, Rebecca Blank, Commerce Department Monrow facility

LOS ANGELES — Three U.S. senators are opposing an effort by Firth Rixson Inc. to import titanium billets duty free to its Monroe, N.Y., aerospace forgings facility.

A recommendation by U.S. Commerce Department staff members to allow Firth Rixson to import the product duty free would "quickly lead to significant harm to domestic titanium producers and forgers," the senators—Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Robert P. Casey Jr. (D., Pa.)—argued this past week in a letter to Rebecca M. Blank, acting secretary of commerce.

All three of the largest U.S. titanium producers—Titanium Metals Corp., a subsidiary of Portland, Ore.-based Precision Castparts Corp.; and Allegheny Technologies Inc. and RTI International Metals Inc., both based in Pittsburgh—have operations in the senators’ home states of Ohio and Pennsylvania—or in both.

The senators stressed in the letter that they support an earlier recommendation by the Commerce Department’s Foreign Trade Zones Board to exempt from duty only those billets consumed for forgings and subsequently exported outside the United States.

The senators maintained that full approval of Firth Rixson’s application could "pressure U.S. titanium producers to lower their prices by proposing to take their business to Firth Rixson, which could provide them duty-free imported titanium."

Firth Rixson, a specialist in aerospace engine components, began applying in 2011 for foreign trade zone (FTZ) status to allow its Monroe operation to import raw billets without paying a 15-percent import tariff, according to government documents.

East Hartford, Conn.-based Firth Rixson couldn’t be reached for comment. The company is a unit of Sheffield, England-based Firth Rixson Ltd., which is owned by New York-based privately held investment firm Oak Hill Capital Partners LP.

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