Labor and political leaders said Monday that a recent finding from the U.S. Department of Commerce on illegally priced imported steel should help boost Ohio’s economy.
Late last week, the Commerce Department ruled that steel manufacturers in South Korea and eight other countries had sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of steel tubing into the United States last year at less than fair value. The Commerce Department calls that dumping, and it’s illegal under U.S. law.
Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat whose congressional district includes Youngstown, said the ruling was essential to keep Ohio’s steel industry strong.
“This ruling on South Korea is absolutely huge for our community, it’s huge for our manufacturing base in Ohio, and puts us on stable footing to continue moving,” Mr. Ryan said.
The ruling, which still must be confirmed by the United States International Trade Commission, is specific to a type of steel tubing used extensively in the burgeoning domestic oil and gas industry, including the Utica Shale fields in eastern Ohio.
A number of companies produce the steel tubing in Ohio, including Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel Corp., which has a plant in Lorain, and Vallourec Star LP, which spent more than $1 billion for a new facility in Youngstown.
Mr. Ryan said oilfield steel products support a total of 8,000 jobs across 22 states.
Pat Gallagher, director for the United Steelworkers district that includes northern Ohio, said some U.S. firms had laid off workers as the lower-priced imports grew in the markets.
Though nine countries were included in the action, the focus was on South Korea, which the Commerce Department said accounted for more than $800 million worth of illegally priced imports.
“It’s a very difficult and high value-added product, and something we need to keep in our country,” Mr. Gallagher said.
The United Steelworkers are still waiting for a ruling on a complaint filed with the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission that alleges Chinese tire manufacturers are illegally dumping their products on the U.S. market.
Union officials said Monday that the complaint remains in the investigative stage. The union successfully helped lobby a similar concern a few years ago that resulted in additional tariffs on Chinese-made tires. The tariffs have since expired.
“They’re back at it again, which speaks to a larger problem with our overall trade policy. We’re back at it again, petitioning on this matter. We’ve just got to stay on top of it,” Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga said.
A spokesman for Findlay-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. said the company has been supplying the government with information as required, but had no comment.
In related news Monday, World Trade Organization judges said in Geneva that the United States broke its rules in imposing hefty duties on Chinese steel products, solar panels, and a range of other goods that Washington argues enjoyed government subsidies.
And in a similar case involving U.S. methods in deciding when foreign imports are unfairly priced, another WTO panel ruled in support of some claims by India against tariffs on steel exports from three of its major firms.
In the $7.2 billion Chinese case, the panel found that Washington had overstepped the mark in justifying the so-called countervailing duties it imposed as a response to alleged subsidies to exporting firms by China’s government.
The ruling did reject some aspects of the Chinese complaint.
The United States said it was weighing its options.
Reuters contributed to this report.
— Tyrel Linkhorn