Commenting on the release of a study of the challenges facing the U.S. steel sector from a flood of imports and rising excess global capacity in steel production, United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard said that the report should be a wake-up call to the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration.
The report “Surging Steel Imports Put Up to Half a Million U.S. Jobs at Risk” by the Economic Policy Institute and the Law Offices of Stewart & Stewart provides a comprehensive analysis of the threats facing the steel sector.
“The U.S. steel sector supports up to half a million U.S. jobs which are at risk without strong action against rising excess global capacity and a flood of unfairly-priced and traded steel imports swamping our market. Our economic and national security interests are at risk and policy leaders appear to be sitting on their hands,” Gerard said.
“The report clearly documents how many foreign competitors, often supported by their governments, are building up capacity well beyond domestic needs and shipping their products around the globe and, all too often, targeting the U.S. market. They know too well that the steel sector is an engine of economic growth and job creation, and the technology it develops and the products it produces are critical components for a strong national defense. U.S. steel imports are rising while domestic production, corporate profitability and industry employment is declining. Our nation’s economic recovery is at further risk if this trend is not stopped.”
Based on the report, the half million U.S. jobs at risk primary relate to steelworker jobs, but others whose employment depends on the steel industry, would also be affected, including those who supply materials, ship products and fabricate steel into countless other applications.
According to Gerard, China is the main culprit in rising capacity and unfairly-traded imports, followed by India and South Korea.
“For example, South Korea is dumping oil country tubular goods (OCTG) into the U.S. market, taking advantage of rising demand for that product by companies rushing to develop America’s oil and natural gas supplies. South Korea, however, does not use any of the product domestically and only produces it for export at prices artificially low enough to steal sales from U.S. producers and their workers,” he said.
“Numerous trade cases have been filed by industry and the USW to stop unfairly traded imports from doing further damage. Unfortunately, there is an increasing view in the industry that our laws are not being fairly and faithfully applied. It is time that trade law enforcement receives a higher priority and that the administrators of these laws put the interests of America at the top of their list.
” The time for dialogue is over; the time for action is here,” Gerard concluded.
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.
Press Release, May 14, 2014, Image: USW