WASHINGTON (AP) -
President Barack Obama's administration on Monday sided with American steel
producers in a politically charged international trade dispute, ruling that
imported steel reinforcing bar from Mexico and Turkey unfairly undercuts
decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce means companies in Mexico and
Turkey will be subject to immediate duties. Within a week, the U.S.
government will stop distribution at the nation's borders of the imported
steel reinforcing bar, which is known as steel rebar and is used to
reinforce concrete, until a cash bond or deposit is posted in the amount of
the newly imposed duties. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may impose
retroactive duties for up to 90 days before the ruling due to the
seriousness of the violations, Commerce said.
The amount of
duties ranges from 10 percent to 66 percent for Mexican companies. For
Turkish companies, the duties were roughly 2 percent.
Steel producers in
Turkey and Mexico have denied they are violating trade laws. Companies in
Mexico also have urged the Department of Commerce to avoid what they
consider to be unnecessary trade disputes with Mexico, arguing American
steel companies control the vast majority of U.S. market share.
Final rulings in
the cases will be issued this summer.
by Commerce's International Trade Administration was launched last fall at
the request of U.S. steel producers. It has drawn the close attention of
steel executives and labor unions in a midterm election year in which
America's declining manufacturing industry and shrinking middle class have
become prominent political campaign issues.
Last month, United
Steelworkers union president Leo Gerard cautioned that the steel industry
could be on the verge of elimination if trade laws are not fully enforced.
senators, Republicans and Democrats, signed a letter to Commerce Secretary
Penny Pritzker this month calling on full U.S. enforcement of trade laws to
protect American steel jobs.
Rebar is one of the
largest-volume steel products produced in the U.S., employing more than
10,000 workers in more than 30 states, including Ohio. U.S.-based rebar
traders have said the impact of the trade case will likely be immediate,
since companies in Mexico and Turkey have captured much of the U.S. rebar
producers alleged that Mexican and Turkish competitors were undercutting
their prices, a practice known as dumping. The U.S. companies also said
rebar imports from Turkey were being unfairly subsidized by the Turkish
government. Commerce in February made a preliminary finding that rebar from
Turkey was being made with only minimal government subsidies so there was no
with Commerce were the Rebar Trade Action Coalition and some of its members:
Byer Steel Group Inc., of Cincinnati; Cascade Steel Rolling Mills Inc., of
McMinnville, Ore.; Nucor Corp., of Charlotte, N.C.; Gerdau Ameristeel U.S.
Inc., of Tampa, Fla.; and Commercial Metals Co., of Irving, Texas.
lawmakers, rebar imports from Turkey and Mexico have been surging into the
U.S., nearly doubling from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, imports from Turkey were
valued at $381 million, and those from Mexico were valued at $182 million.
"This ruling is
good news for thousands of Ohio steelworkers," said Sen. Rob Portman,
R-Ohio, who signed the letter to the Department of Commerce. "Washington
must stand up for American manufactured goods, and today's ruling will help
prevent unfairly traded rebar from threatening jobs here at home.”