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November 2004

Steel-Producing Community Supports Stronger Import Monitoring

Steel trade associations and unions, on behalf of their U.S. members, submitted a joint comment to the Department of Commerce in response to the August 25th Federal Register notice regarding the continuation of the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system. The domestic industry reiterated its support for the indefinite extension of the program and outlined several key enhancements that would improve its usefulness and effectiveness in the post-201 world steel market.

The industry emphasized that the SIMA system is a vital element to help ensure fair trade in steel by providing policymakers in the Administration and Congress with the most timely and accurate information about this critical sector. Furthermore, import licensing is specifically authorized under the WTO and in no way limits or encumbers imports. In fact, Canada and other U.S. trading partners have enacted permanent steel import licensing programs. The steel groups urged the Administration to act quickly, as the current SIMA system is set to expire in March 2005. They cited commitments to an extended and expanded system by the Administration, including President Bush, Commerce Secretary Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick, as well as broad support in Congress.

Suggestions for enhancements to the current SIMA system were:

The SIMA system must be made permanent, to allow all interested parties to monitor steel import activity continually at a high level of detail, and as close as possible to real time.

Product coverage must be expanded to cover all basic steel products, not just those that had been subject to the Section 201 remedy, as many products not covered under the current SIMA system are also exposed to import surges.

Both volume (weight) and value ($/ton) data must be collected and disseminated to evaluate fully and properly the impact of imports on the domestic market.

Detail must be provided by 10-digit HTS product, country of origin and port of entry (three-dimensional matrix).

The domestic industry groups also encouraged the Commerce Department, once the revised system is in place, to consider incentives to encourage importers of offshore steel to obtain an import license at least 15 days prior to the date of entry. This would allow the government and industry advance notification, further enhancing the SIMA program’s effectiveness.

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