This time, it’s cold-drawn mechanical tubing from several countries, including China.
The battle against dumped steel imports wages on.
On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced his department is initiating an investigation into cold-drawn mechanical tubing imports from countries including China, Germany, Italy, India, South Korea and Switzerland.
The antidumping and countervailing duty investigation is in response to a petition filed by several companies looking for relief from dumped and subsidized imports. Those petitioners -- ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC., PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc., -- are seeking margins ranging from 12 percent to 209.06 percent.
According to the companies, imports from these countries are priced extremely low and often subsidized by the countries where they originate. American producers, who operate in an open-market, can compete in terms of quality of product – but cannot do so when the game is rigged.
“The prices we see from countries that are the subject of this case have been incredibly low, often at levels that are below our cost to manufacture,” said Ed Vore, chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Tubular Products North America. “That means that to make that sale, we could have to sell the product at a price that does not even cover all of our variable costs.”
There’s no doubt that imports are soaring. In 2016, cold-drawn mechanical tubing imports from Germany reached $38.8 million, followed by China at $29.4 million and Switzerland at $26.2 million. All total, the imports from countries named in the petition reached $152.6 million.
“Imports from the subject countries have made significant inroads into our volumes and market share, using extremely low prices,” Vore said. “Our lost volume has nothing to do with an inability of ArcelorMittal to supply the quality or product range our customers require – we do that well. … What prevented us from selling adequate volumes has been the extremely low prices of the subject merchandise.”
This investigation is just the latest led by the Commerce Department into unfair steel imports; the agency has initiated investigations into 34 separately alleged subsidy programs in China alone. It’s a consequence of China’s massive steel overcapacity, which is creating a global crisis.
The Commerce Department has overseen dozens of investigations over steel imports under both the Obama and Trump administrations. President Trump recently launched national security investigations into steel and aluminum imports because of the ongoing crisis.
This specific case now heads to the International Trade Commission, which is set to make a preliminary injury determination by June 5. If the ruling is in the affirmative, the Commerce Department will then announce preliminary duties.