December 2004

Steel Discussions Focus on Search for Common Policy Agenda

At the third meeting of the intergovernmental “North American Steel Trade Committee” (NASTC) in Washington DC, on November 15, representatives of NAFTA governments and steel associations considered recommendations for an ambitious program of work. Participants had productive discussions, and agreed to follow up on proposals to explore further ways to:

  • Ensure a productive OECD steel conference and Steel Committee meeting in January 2005;
  • Maintain a common approach to the Steel Subsidies Agreement (“SSA”) negotiation;
  • Increase coordination, where possible, on WTO Doha Round issues;
  • Monitor steel imports effectively;
  • Share information on foreign trade-distorting practices;
  • Enhance Customs cooperation;
  • Preserve and strengthen manufacturing in North America.

At this meeting, attended by approximately 65 government and industry participants (including, for the first time, customs officials from all three countries), NAFTA steel industry associations:

Reported on the market “Pulse,” highlighting key developments since the May NASTC meeting in Ottawa and their potential impact on NAFTA steel markets;

Reiterated the importance of maintaining effective national trade laws and international disciplines to address fundamental market distortions that are now being exacerbated by a major new surge of steel capacity expansions offshore.

Over the coming weeks, NAFTA government officials and steel industry representatives plan to continue their efforts in support of a cooperative and ambitious program of work activities. The next meeting of the NASTC will be in Mexico in May 2005.

The associations that presented united views at the Washington meeting included the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA), the Mexican Steel Producers Association (CANACERO), the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA) and the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA).

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