WASHINGTON AK Steel Corp. laid out its arguments against imports of non-oriented electrical steel (NOES) before the International Trade Commission (ITC) Nov. 6, alleging that low-priced imports from six countries had dealt a "devastating blow" to the companys financial results and electrical steel operations.
AK filed a trade petition against NOES imports from China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan in late September (amm.com, Sept. 30). The ITC heard arguments from AK Steel executives and legal representatives, who said there was "no question that AK Steels NOES operations (have been) materially injured" by imports of the material from China, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.
"The result has been extremely detrimental," Eric Petersen, AK Steels vice president of sales and customer service, told ITC staffers. "We are at the point where our prices are unsustainable and we cannot reduce them (further).
"Due to lost sales volume, our (NOES) capacity is grossly underutilized," Petersen added. "Our customers indicate that subject imports are underselling (NOES material) on average by 25 percent."
The commission staff also heard testimonies from NOES producers from the six countries as well as importers, who countered that West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steels NOES operations had been hurt primarily by competition from alternative products, namely cold-rolled motor lamination (CRML) steel.
"There is a substantial overlap between NOES and CRML steel for many lower- and middle-range applications," said Jonathan Weinstein, vice president of sales for Fort Lee, N.J.-based Metallia USA LLC, which imports NOES from Taiwan into the U.S. market on behalf of China Steel Corp. "Many customers have shifted their need from NOES to CRML, and this has taken a lot of business away from AK Steel."
Hiroyuki Azeyanagi, staff manager at Tokyo-based JFE Steel Corp., said AK Steels position as the only domestic producer of NOES left the market "exposed" to a single source of supply.
"I strongly question AK Steels ability to supply the entire U.S. market," Azeyanagi said, citing the unplanned outage at the companys Middletown, Ohio, blast furnace facility earlier this year as proof that "supply chain issues are a very real concern" that necessitate imports.
AK Steel filed a similar petition, alongside Pittsburgh-based producer Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) and the United Steelworkers union, against imports of grain-oriented electrical steel from seven countries (amm.com, Sept. 18).
Commerce will announce its decision whether to initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations against NOES imports Nov. 7. Commerce announced Oct. 25 that it would pursue the GOES investigations filed by AK Steel, ATI and the USW.