Sept. 3, 2014

Industry Welcomes ITC Ruling on OCTG Imports
 
Last month's ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission won't eliminate oil country tubular goods imports from Korea and other foreign countries, but the duties the foreign suppliers must now pay will go a long way toward leveling the playing field for domestic producers.

In its ruling, the ITC found that dumped and subsidized imports from Korea, Taiwan, India, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam were causing injury to the domestic industry. The ITC found little or no injury due to imports from Thailand, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. Though domestic producers were hopeful the ITC would place duties on imports from all nine countries, the inclusion of the major overseas sources, most notably Korea, was welcomed by U.S. executives.

The question that remains is what will happen to U.S. pipe and tube prices in the wake of the favorable ruling. How much, and how quickly, the new duties on foreign imports will change the competition in the OCTG market is open to debate. U.S. Steel Chairman and CEO Mario Longhi doubts the market will feel any effects until after the third quarter. Kurt Minnich, a partner with Tulsa, Okla.-based Spear and Associates and publisher of PipeLogix, contends the market has already reacted. He believes the ITC's preliminary decision in July, reversing an earlier Commerce Department ruling that rejected unfair trade claims against Korea and Taiwan, was behind the recent OCTG price hike. His company's index showed a 3-4 percent increase in OCTG prices last month.

The positive result from the trade case, even against a major supplier such as Korea, will not be a market-shaking event, contends Minnich. This contrasts sharply with the 2009-10 ruling against Chinese OCTG products. "That was a much steeper tariff and it definitely changed the supply side more significantly than what we’ve seen with this latest case."

Korea will remain a significant supplier of OCTG materials to North America, Minnich adds. "It doesn't take Korean volumes completely off the market, but it will increase their costs, so it will help boost pricing."

Of course, if Korean suppliers find the U.S. inhospitable, they could seek out another home for their product. In anticipation of that possibility, Canadian producers, led by Evraz and Tenaris, have spearheaded a similar investigation against unfairly traded OCTG imports, one that will wend its way through the Canadian Border Services Agency in the coming year.

For more on the OCTG market, see the September print edition of MCN.

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