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Senators call on ITC to protect rebar

Keywords: Tags  U.S. International Trade Commission, Sherrod Brown, Lindsey Graham, rebar, imports, American Institute for International Steel, David Phelps, Jim Kerkvliet Joseph Alvarado

NEW YORK — Fourteen senators have called on the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to protect the domestic rebar industry by maintaining anti-dumping duties on concrete reinforcing bar imports from several countries in Asia and eastern Europe.

The senators, including Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), said in a letter to ITC chairman Irving A. Williamson that maintaining current anti-dumping duties on products from China, Belarus, Indonesia, Latvia, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine would be in the interest of the U.S. rebar industry and work force. The letter comes as the ITC is deliberating whether to maintain existing import duties on rebar imports from those countries (, April 23).

"The continuation of these trade orders is necessary to prevent further injury to an already vulnerable domestic rebar industry and its workers," the senators said in the letter. "It is essential that we do all we can to prevent unfairly priced imports from destroying good-paying American jobs."

Unfairly traded rebar imports "would depress U.S. prices and injure domestic industries," the senators added.

The ITC held a five-year sunset review on rebar anti-dumping duties April 25, with Joseph Alvarado, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Irving, Texas-based Commercial Metals Co., and Jim Kerkvliet, vice president of commercial sales at Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America, among the mill sources testifying for the domestic rebar industry.

Domestic mills argue that the countries in question produce far more rebar than they can consume and are looking for a market into which they can dump their excess product.

"The margins we’re making are (already) grotesquely thin," a mill source who was at the ITC review told AMM. "Pulling down the tariffs on any of these countries would further the long-term damage on this industry."

In their letter, the senators argued that imports from China and the other six countries under review could flood the U.S. rebar market. "Rebar producers in these countries continue to increase their production well in excess of demand and continue to add new capacity," the letter said.

But David Phelps, president of the Washington-based American Institute for International Steel, told AMM that the global steel industry has changed dramatically since the duties were first instituted in 2001, and the ITC should let them expire.

"Who in the world would argue that the steel industry and the U.S. steel market (haven’t) dramatically changed since ’98, ’99, 2000? It’s a totally different market," Phelps said. "After protection of nearly 12 years (from rebar imports), we don’t even think this should be a question that should be asked at this point."

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