Executives from many of the countrys largest steel
companies met with senators and government officials on Capitol
Hill July 16 to push for action against unfair trade practices,
arguing that lackluster U.S. demand leaves no room for unfairly
"While the economy is
growing slowly in 2013, steel shipments and demand are not
growing," Michael T. Rehwinkel, executive chairman of Evraz
Inc. North America, told reporters on a media call following
the event organized by the American Iron and Steel Institute.
"Government intervention is creating global steel overcapacity,
which is leading to a surge in steel imports to the United
Also in attendance
were Nucor Corp. president and chief executive officer John
Ferriola; Gerdau Long Steel North America president Guilherme
Johannpeter; senior vice president for U.S. Steel Corp.s
North American flat-rolled operations, Mike Williams; and AISI
president and chief executive officer Thomas Gibson. They met
with newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman,
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.)
and Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), as well as U.S. Commerce
The steel executives
urged action to end alleged currency manipulation by China and
Japan, stricter enforcement of existing trade laws and the
speedy appointment of U.S. International Trade Commission
According to the
executives, major steel players like China and Japan are
keeping the value of their currencies unnaturally weak, thereby
encouraging steel exports to countries like the United States.
Williams told reporters that Japan exported 2.6 million net
tons of steel to the United States in 2012, while the United
States exported only 26,000 tons to Japan.
"Japan has adopted a
policy to make the yen more competitive," Gibson said. "These
are fundamentally governmental decisions in China and Japan
about taking measures to make their economies more competitive.
We continue to support Congress moving forward on currency
manipulation (and policies that) would allow injured U.S.
parties to countervail against such practices."
Earlier this month,
U.S. producers filed a trade case against imports of oil
country tubular goods (OCTG) from nine countries (
amm.com, July 2), which executives said was a
positive first step in the enforcement of fair trade.
"The most significant
decline in domestic shipments has been to the domestic OCTG
business," Williams said. "From 2010 to 2012, OCTG from the
(nine subject) countries increased 111 percent, capturing a
significant share of the market (and) ... materially injuring
the U.S. industry. We will be arguing for aggressive
enforcement (of fair OCTG trade)."
suggested that the U.S. steel industry may file trade cases on
other steel products as well.
looking only at OCTG, but were looking at the whole steel
market," Ferriola said.
Some sectors of the
steel market have seen a slight improvement recently in pricing
and demand, although overall steel shipments of 39.6 million
tons in the first five months of this year are down 6 percent
from 42.1 million tons in the same period last year, according
to data released July 16 by AISI.
Executives said that
any improvement in the steel market later this year would not
hurt the industrys ability to lobby in Washington for
fairer trade laws.
"Its not about
the market. Its about illegally traded product moving
into the United States. It has nothing to do with markets. If
we find steel is coming into the country in an unfair manner
due to dumping, were going to take action," Ferriola
Editor's Note: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version
of this story included some incorrect data on OCTG imports. The
above story reflects the corrected figures.