ITC Approves Section 201 Action
Washington, DC - Following weeks of public hearings in the largest, most complicated trade case ever before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the ITC voted that imports have been a substantial cause of serious injury to the U.S. steel industry in affirmative decisions covering nearly 80 percent of total import tonnage.
A release from the American Iron and Steel Institute said, "This decision is a significant step that sets the stage to provide a temporary period of strong, effective and comprehensive steel import relief. Such relief would provide a period of time to allow U.S. steel producers to recover and to address long-term structural problems in the U.S. and global steel sector."
In June, the President announced a three-part Steel Plan to address the 50-year legacy of government intervention and unfair trade in the steel sector. The ITC investigation under Section 201 of U.S. trade law constitutes one element of the Plan. The other two parts involve multilateral negotiations to reduce excess and inefficient global steel capacity and to address subsidies, closed markets, private anticompetitive practices and other steel market-distorting practices worldwide.
"This vote by an independent panel validates what AISI and its U.S. member companies have been saying for many years," Duane R. Dunham, AISI chairman, and president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, stated. "A flood of low-priced imports has caused serious injury to efficient U.S. steel producers. The October 22 ruling is a major step toward fully implementing the President's Steel Plan and developing solutions to the global steel crisis. Furthermore, President Bush was right to focus on the root causes of this crisis by calling for multilateral negotiations aimed at reducing global excess steel capacity and eliminating steel market-distorting practices worldwide. The ITC's injury determination must now be accompanied by effective ITC remedy recommendations and by strong action by the President. "
Others are worried about the decision. Jon Jenson, chairman of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), said, "the decision sets up a potential disaster for U.S. consumers of steel if it restricts steel-consuming industries' access to imports."
"We now move on to the remedy phase, and the only good remedy for American consumers is one that addresses the root causes of the steel industry's problems. Imports are not the problem."
In the "remedy" phase, the Commission makes recommendations to the President on trade relief for the steel industry. Speaking for America's steel-using industries, Mr. Jenson continued, "Consumers made their views known in the injury phase and we'll do so again in the remedy hearings. We intend to remind the Commission that trade restrictions hurt American companies, American workers, and in the end, every person who buys American-made steel-containing products."