More than 200 Ohio steel workers and supporters gathered at a rally outside US Steel Lorain Tubular Operations on May 5 to urge the federal government to protect the Northeast Ohio steel industry from unfair foreign competition.
“Northeast Ohio’s steelmakers and workers can compete against anyone in the world—when given access to a level playing field,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Cleveland). “But American producers are increasingly losing sales to foreign competitors like Korea because OCTG imports are being dumped into the U.S. market. Full enforcement of our trade laws is critical for the future of this industry and its workers.”
The rally was held to raise awareness about the OCTG anti-dumping case that is currently before the U.S. Commerce Dept. The Commerce Department made a preliminary finding in February that required duties on imports from eight countries except for South Korea. The finding surprised many in the steel industry because South Korea is the largest importer of tubular goods to the U.S. Approximately $818 million worth of tubular goods were imported from South Korea in 2013. The final determination is scheduled for July 8.
Northeast Ohio, with its proximity to the Marcellus shale basin, has two of the top US producers of OCTG—US Steel Lorain and Vallourec Star in Youngstown.
“We need to enforce trade laws (for the plant’s nearly 700 workers),” said John Wilkinson, Lorain Tubular Operations plant manager. “Lorain can compete and win against anyone in the world if the playing field is fair.”
US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) told rally participants, “This fight for fair trade is the biggest economic fight of our generation.”
On Tuesday, the Commerce Department released the latest monthly U.S trade figures that showed US trade deficit declined in March to 40.4 billion from a revised February figure of 41.9 billion. The goods deficit with South Korea rose .3 billion in March.
“Every dollar’s worth of trade deficit serves as a drag on economic growth, which means fewer job opportunities for American workers. A smart trade strategy starts with trade enforcement,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing (AMM) President Scott Paul.
“If our workers and businesses have a level playing field here at home as well as in markets abroad, we will grow jobs. I was in Lorain, Ohio on Monday, where hundreds of jobs are in jeopardy because of dumped steel pipe from South Korea. Unless the Commerce Department makes the right choice in July, the American pipe and tube industry could suffer. Enforcing trade laws creates jobs in America.”
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