Steel Industry Takes Action Against Raw Material Export Restrictions
A letter from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA), the American Scrap Coalition (ASC), the American Foundry Society, the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association and the Municipal Castings Association, which represent about 3500 companies, was sent to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk today.
The letter was written on behalf of companies using raw materials and steel scrap in the process of steelmaking, metalcasting, and related industries as these industries feel threatened by restraints on exports by other countries. These other major steel producing countries include three of the major BRIC countries: Russia, India, and China. The letter spoke of these countries having “unfair advantages in international competition, and are having a demonstrably negative impact on the U.S. economy.”
Thus, the above mentioned associations are asking that the United States address these restraints and their long-term effects on the economy.
India has recently announced it will quadruple the export duties on some types of iron ore, which will ultimately push the already high prices up more. Russia is included in the letter as the country has claimed to limit the exportation of iron and steel scrap only through certain ports; of course, as the supply will be limited, prices are likely to increase worldwide.
The third country spoken of, China, is said to have further restricted exports of fluorspar and refractory bauxite. This announcement comes on the heels of a reported “finding by a WTO dispute settlement panel that such restrictions violate China’s international obligations.”
The authors of the letter point out that there must be gaps in the GATT, the WTO, and other international disciplines on trade barriers as they are allowing these countries to restrict their exports. Furthermore, the writers ask that these issues be addressed at the WTO Doha Round, to the World Trade Organization, and at requested bilateral consultations with Russia and India.
These trade restrictions are said to give the countries “an artificial advantage in international competition, an advantage they do not need.” Although the associations acknowledge the effort of the U.S. addressing certain restraints on exports, the steel industry representatives ask that the U.S. should include export duties in its international negotiating priorities.