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Rebar producers seek to keep imports at bay

Keywords: Tags  rebar, ITC, sunset review, China, imports, domestic producers, Nucor Corp., Gerdau Samuel Frizell

NEW YORK — Domestic producers of concrete reinforcing bar (rebar) will seek to hold imports at bay during the International Trade Commission’s (ITC’s) April 25 review of import duties against China, Indonesia and five Eastern European countries.

The ITC will conduct its second five-year sunset review to determine whether duties on imports of rebar from China, Indonesia, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine, Latvia and Belarus—which have been in place since 2001—should remain in place, be amended or revoked altogether.

The duties are a strong-enough deterrent that the only two major exporters of rebar to the United States are currently Turkey and Mexico, but domestic producers fear a flood of imported rebar should any of the duties be lifted.

According to the domestic companies’ prehearing brief to the ITC, the economic downturn since the duties were enforced has made the rebar industry more susceptible to import disruption, particularly from countries with large rebar capacity that are looking for export markets, such as China.

"In light of China’s massive overcapacity, revocation of the orders likely would have catastrophic consequences for the U.S. industry," according to the domestic companies, which include Nucor Corp., Gerdau Long Steel North America and others. "The domestic industry is more vulnerable to even modest volumes of subject imports, and subject producers are even more desperate to export their massive and growing rebar capacity and production."

Others say, however, that the rebar industry has been significantly restructured in recent years, and is now more impervious to the effects of imports than it was when the duties were introduced.

"(The domestic rebar industry) is a highly concentrated industry in a few hands. When it’s concentrated and you have a limited number of mills, the concentration of production means the domestic industry has a very strong hand in the market," Don Cameron, a lawyer for Latvian steel producer JSC Liepajas Metalurgs, which is challenging the duties, told AMM.

Current duties on imported rebar stand at margins of 133 percent for material from China, 114.53 percent on rebar from Belarus, 71.01 percent on most rebar from Indonesia, 16.99 on Latvian rebar, 232.86 percent on Moldovan product, 47.13 percent on most Polish exporters and 41.69 percent on Ukrainian rebar.

The domestic companies seeking to hold on to the domestic anti-dumping duty orders include Nucor, Gerdau, Cascade Steel Rolling Mills Inc., Commercial Metals Co. and Byer Steel Corp.

"The U.S. rebar market is still operating at 60-percent capacity, and we are now a relatively low-cost producer, so the import penetration to an industry operating at 60-percent capacity doesn’t make sense," Tom Danjczek, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, told AMM.

Importers disagreed about the state of the U.S. industry, arguing that it is unlikely to fall victim to imports.

"The U.S. rebar industry is clearly in the midst of a strong recovery that is significantly outpacing the overall economy," Latvian representatives said in the country’s prehearing brief. "This is not a vulnerable industry."

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