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Trade Groups, Labor Urge Biden to Keep Tariffs

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Four domestic steel industry associations and the United Steelworkers urged Joe Biden to keep steel tariffs in place in advance of his inauguration. The American Iron and Steel Institute, Steel Manufacturers Association, Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports and American Institute of Steel Construction joined the labor union in the plea to the new president.

Continuation of the tariffs and quotas is essential to ensuring the viability of the domestic steel industry in the face of this massive and growing excess steel capacity. Removing or weakening of these measures before major steel producing countries eliminate their overcapacity – and the subsidies and other trade-distorting policies that have fueled the steel crisis – will only invite a new surge in imports with devastating effects to domestic steel producers and their workers.”

The letter states the OECD last year projected that steel overcapacity would grow to 700 million metric tons in 2020 – eight times the total steel output of the United States. China, Vietnam and Turkey, among others, continue to increase their steel production even as the pandemic has caused demand for steel to drop around the world.  Korea, Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia and others continue to export large shares of their steel production to other markets, the letter claims.

“Unfortunately, the steel industry’s recovery was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a significant drop in demand last spring, forcing painful job cuts as steel mills, fabricators and pipe and tube mills either cut back production or shut down entirely. As customers have restarted production, the steel industry has begun to recover, but we remain very vulnerable to new surges in imports,” the groups wrote.

“We stand ready to work with your administration to address the global trade distortions in steel that continue to threaten our industry and its workers,” they concluded.

On the nonferrous side, the Aluminum Association is calling for a "targeted approach" to trade enforcement. The association says across-the-board tariffs have failed to dent the non-market-based structural subsidies that drive overcapacity and hurt U.S. aluminum producers and workers.

"As long as Section 232 tariffs remain in place, we will continue to call for significant reforms to the product exclusion process, which has allowed importers to game the system and created incentives to import aluminum products. Ultimately, we favor a multilateral approach to encourage market-based economies to keep unfairly traded aluminum out and minimize market distortions," President Tom Dobbins said.


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