An Unprecedented Threat

Trade cheating by China and others jeopardizes the future of America's steel industry. The government must act to Save Our Steel Jobs.

U.S. Steel Jobs in Trouble

For decades, American steel has played a vital role in the health of our nation's economy.

More than 1 million Americans have a job because of the steel industry. In fact, one steel job supports seven additional jobs in the U.S. economy. The industry operates more than 100 steelmaking and production facilities in the United States, which creates additional economic opportunities in communities nationwide.

But our nation's steelworkers and companies are facing an unprecedented threat, one that could jeopardize the future of the U.S. steel industry and communities across America.

A surge in subsidized imports of steel from places like China are flooding the U.S. market. These imports are dumped, meaning that they are priced well below market value and in deceptive ways that are designed to circumvent international trade laws.

As a result, more than 13,500 steelworkers have been laid off in recent months. Steel plant activity is operating below 70 percent of its capacity, and major steelmaking facilities have closed. If things don't change, additional layoffs and closures are expected.

Steelworker Dan Hill is among those coping with the impacts of the steel surge. He's one of about 2,000 people who have been laid off from their jobs on Minnesota's Iron Range, where the taconite needed to make steel is mined. Hill recently visited Washington, D.C., to share with policymakers how China's trade cheating is impacting people like him. 

The entire community depends on the mine, and the entire community will be devastated if something isn't done soon, he said.

"It's generations of mining," he says. "My grandpa retired from that mine, a couple of great uncles retired from that mine, my dad helped do some work on that mine. That's all before I was born. It means a lot. It's home."

American steelworkers like Dan produce the best product in the world, and are ready and willing to compete with anyone. But right now, many foreign countries are not playing fair — and often times, the U.S. government's inaction has allowed them to cheat.

It's time for our government to level the playing field.

" China produces as much steel as the rest of the world combined -- more than four times the peak U.S. production in the 1970s. But as China's growth slows, the excess steel that Chinese industry doesn't need is washing up overseas. "
- The Wall Street Journal

An Unfair Advantage

Many nations are producing subsidized steel at record-breaking rates. But China is by far the biggest offender.

Chinese steelmakers produced an estimated 100 million metric tons of steel in 2015 alone, at a time when property and infrastructure construction in China has bottomed out. Simply put, China is manufacturing way more steel than it actually needs, and as a result, there currently is 336 to 425 million metric tons of steel going unused in China.

Given all that extra steel, one would expect that China's steelmakers would slow down their production. But as the Wall Street Journal recently explained, most of these companies were government-owned or closely linked to local governments — and given their role as employers and providers of tax revenue, those mills are “unlikely to close or cut production even if running losses.

Major state-owned steelmakers also continue to have their loans rolled over or refinanced. And on top of all that, the Chinese government manipulates its currency, giving Chinese steelmakers a major economic advantage.

So what have these steelmakers decided to do with their several hundred million metric tons worth of extra steel? They ship it to the United States and price it as cheap as possible, flooding the U.S. marketplace.

This is hugely unfair to U.S. steelmakers. China is a non-market economy. Nine out of 10 of its top steel producers are state-owned. American steel companies, meanwhile, operate in an open marketplace.

Plants continue to be shut down. American workers are laid off. American steel companies are being irreparably harmed by illegal trade practices. U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi

And when the U.S. government does take action to stop some of this trade cheating — including by issuing tariffs — many of these companies ignore the rules. Trade orders are frequently and blatantly avoided.

American steelmakers cannot compete when the game is rigged and the rules that do exist are rarely enforced.

If the government doesn't take action to effectively halt the flooding of subsidized foreign steel into the U.S. market, more Americans will lose their jobs and more factories will shutter.

700 million

metric tons of excess global steel capacity

823 million

tons of steel produced by China in 2014

111 million

tons of steel produced by Japan in 2014, the second biggest producer

metric tons of excess global steel capacity

700 million

tons of steel produced by China in 2014

823 million

tons of steel produced by Japan in 2014, the second biggest producer

111 million

Time to Fight Back

Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done to reverse this trend and Save Our Steel Jobs.

Strong trade enforcement is needed to level the playing field for American steelworkers and companies. Several antidumping and countervailing duty trade cases seeking remedy already have been filed, and the outcome of these cases will directly impact upcoming business decisions — including future layoffs and closures.

An Unprecedented Threat

Tell the U.S. Trade Representative and Commerce Department to take concrete action to address the steel imports crisis.

Take Action NOW

There are some positive signs. The U.S. Commerce Department announced in December 2015 that China had sold corrosion-resistant steel in the U.S. market at unfairly low prices and now will be taxed at 256 percent. The agency also issued duties to steel imports from South Korea, India, and Italy. The Commerce Department should issue similar rulings for several additional trade cases that remain.

Here's what needs to happen now:

  • Congress should weigh in with the Commerce Department, urging the agency to utilize new trade remedy improvement provisions, deny requests for extensions by foreign respondents in trade cases, and issue preliminary determinations that provide effective relief.
  • Congress should also ensure that the Office of Enforcement and Compliance at the Commerce Department is properly funded. The agency’s caseload more than doubled between 2012 and 2014 — but lack of funding meant that American workers and companies are facing longer delays before getting trade enforcement relief.
  • The Senate must pass the Customs and Enforcement Bill, already passed by the House, which provides a package of reforms to the way goods are treated and tracked as they enter our market. This vital legislation includes overdue reforms to the processes of handling allegations of trade evasion.
  • The Obama administration should continue China's non-market economy status well beyond December 2016. The administration also needs to get tough on trade cheating, including by finally naming China a currency manipulator.

Finally, YOU can urge both Congress and the Obama administration to stand up for steel workers. Tell our government to get tough on trade cheats.

Stop China Trade Cheats

American steelworkers & companies can compete with anyone in the world. But only if there is a level playing field.

Stand Up