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Specialty Steel Industry Chairman Testifies before Congressional Steel Caucus

Washington— Paul A. Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Slater Steel Inc. and Chairman of the Specialty Steel Industry of North America testified before the Congressional steel caucus May 22, 2003. Highlights of his testimony are as follows:

"As you know, specialty steels are high value stainless steel and other specialty alloy products. Shipments of North American specialty steel account for some $8 billion in annual revenues, yet account for only 2 percent of the volume. Indicative of their high value, specialty steels are sold by the pound, not the ton.

"Fourteen months after the 201 program went into effect, there is some evidence that the remedy has begun to help stainless bar, rod and wire producers. But, while imports of these products have declined, they still control 40% of the U.S. stainless steel bar market and 57% of the stainless steel rod market. Stainless steel sheet/strip, the industry's largest product line, is not covered by the import relief program. The latest data reflect an increase in stainless steel sheet/strip imports with U.S. producers losing 20% of their own market to imports. It is important to note that the U.S. price for commodity grade stainless steel sheet/strip is among the lowest in the world.

"While import levels are decreasing across other stainless steel product lines, demand has also dropped. Overall import penetration for all specialty steels sits at 24%.

"The 201 remedy has started to help the stainless industry, but the full benefits have yet to be realized. It is crucial that the relief program be allowed to continue for the full three-year term as originally planned. While the import numbers for stainless products covered under 201 remain high, I am convinced that they would be even higher today in its absence. The remedy must continue if we are to have any chance of increasing sales volume, recapturing market share and returning to profitability.

"On a related note, I would like to voice our strong support for Mr. Visclosky's legislation that would expand the current steel import licensing and monitoring program. Mr.Visclosky's legislation would expand the coverage to include all steel products. This legislation would provide my industry with a meaningful early warning system that could identify import surges in a timely manner so that industry and government decision makers will have the information necessary to best respond to changes in trade patterns."






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