Steelworkers Cheer As Steel Firms Go After China For Illegal Dumping – Through Vietnam

Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg Editor, Press Associates Union News

With encouragement from the Steelworkers, who in the past have taken the lead in such cases, major U.S. steel companies, including U.S. Steel, AK Steel, and ArcelorMittal, are going after China for illegal dumping of steel on the U.S. market, again.

The catch this time is that China and its steel firms aren’t directly shipping below-cost subsidized steel to the United States, costing U.S. jobs. Instead, they route it through Vietnam, who ships it here, avoiding recent 266 percent U.S. tariffs imposed on Chinese steel. But the trans-shipment still costs U.S. jobs, the steel companies declare.

The steel firms have yet to formally file their case against below-cost corrosion-resistant carbon steel and cold-rolled steel with the U.S. International Trade Commission, but the Wall Street Journal reported they intend to do so by Oct 2. Their plan drew accolades from Steelworkers President Leo Gerard.

“The U.S. economy is the most open in the world, but our market is under attack,” he said. “Despite having dozens of successful trade cases, foreign competitors are using every means available to circumvent these rulings, and continue to ship their unfairly traded and illegally priced products into our market. They do whatever they can to keep their facilities operating and their people working.

“We need to do the same.”

Gerard pointed out the recent U.S. tariffs imposed on below-cost Chinese steel helped stabilize the U.S. steel market, restored fair prices for U.S.-made products and saved tens of thousands of domestic steel workers’ jobs. But Chinese diversion of its steel to Vietnam, for subsequent shipment to the U.S. shows China and other below-cost competitors constantly “seek new ways to skirt the rules” of international trade in an “almost endless” fight. He called the China-Vietnam diversion case “critical…as every (U.S.) job matters.

“We need to let our competitors know that breaking the rules is not acceptable and we are committed to ensuring fair play. The private sector” bears “the brunt of this problem -- lost production, lost jobs and the burden of demanding the rules be aggressively enforced. 

“Enforcing our nation’s trade laws is comparable to the carnival game of ‘whack a mole,’ and these filings are us whacking that mole. Government needs to do much more to relieve that burden and send an unequivocal message that breaking rules will be met with swift and sure responses,” Gerard said of the federal role.

The Journal said the Chinese evade U.S. tariffs by shipping steel to Vietnam, where they modify it by adding other elements, pay Vietnam’s tariff rate and ship it to the U.S. International data show Vietnam shipped 312,000 tons of steel to the U.S. in the first six months of this year, compared to 25,000 tons in the same time last year. In that same time, Chinese steel exports to Vietnam rose by two million tons, or 46 percent. China’s overcapacity in steel production has caused a market glut worldwide, the Steelworkers note. 

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Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Press Associates

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