Trade Cases

Reaction to DOC Cold-Rolled Steel Duties

Written by Sandy Williams

Reaction to the US Department of Commerce (DOC) preliminary duties on cold-rolled steel has been mixed, depending on what side of the antidumping determination the commentators are on.

In the UK, the steel sector is readying itself for further onslaught of Chinese exports while its own steel exports to the U.S. are assigned dumping margins in the range of 5.79 percent to 31.39 percent.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of the UK trade union Community, said “We are drowning in this flood of Chinese imports and the US action will only serve to divert more Chinese steel towards Europe.”

EU duties on China have been regarded by the European steel industry as woefully inadequate at around 16 percent.

UK Steel director Gareth Stace said: “The US is showing the way in which to deal with underpriced, unfairly traded and state supported imports from China. It is acting decisively, swiftly and at a level that stops China dumping steel with impunity. By contrast, the meek and mild response in the EU is looking increasingly inadequate.”

Russian steel producers Severstal and NLMK were assigned antidumping margins of 12.62 percent and 16.89 percent, respectively. All other Russian producers and exporters of cold-rolled steel received AD duties of 14.76 percent.

Russian news source TASS reports that Severstal strongly disagrees with the calculation of duties.

A Severstal representative told TASS, “We do not agree with the calculation of duties. Severstal supplies its products in full compliance with international trade rules. It should be noted that these are preliminary steps, we continue to participate in the investigation. We hope that the final decision will be based on objective data,”

NLMK would not comment on the U.S. provisional duties but said the U.S. market is not “strategic” for cold-rolled exports.

An NLMK spokesperson told TASS, “First it is necessary to get acquainted with their arguments. At the same time, we should note that the US market of cold-rolled steel is not strategic for exports of NLMK from Russia, and potentially NLMK USA enterprises may benefit from the restrictions, if the introduction of duties leads to reduction of imports from other countries into the market.”

In the U.S. the reaction to the duties was welcomed with the caveat that this is merely a first step in ensuring a level playing field for the U.S. steel industry.

The petitioners in the cold-rolled antidumping case were ArcelorMittal, US Steel, AK Steel, Steel Dynamics and Nucor. The steel producers saw an immediate benefit from the decision as stock prices soared following the DOC announcement. US Steel, ArcelorMittal and AK Steel saw shares climb by double digits, while SDI and Nucor gained 5.2 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

Nucor trade counsel, Alan Price of Wiley Rein LLP commented, “This is a positive first step in addressing unfairly traded imports of cold-rolled steel, but there is additional work to be done, in particular on countries like Korea, India, and Russia. We are confident that as the Commerce Department continues to examine these countries and companies, they will continue to find unfair and illegal trade practices. We believe that once all the facts are known, Commerce will address the dumping and subsidies fully and aggressively.”

ArcelorMittal trade counsel, Paul Rosenthal of Kelly, Drye & Warren, LLP commented, “The steel industry in the United States faces significant competitive challenges from dumped and subsidized imports, and preliminary duties are an important step in restoring fair trade to the U.S. market. While we are pleased with the results overall, we expect margins to be higher when the final determinations are complete.”

An AK Steel spokesperson said “We are pleased with the outcome, and when coupled with related countervailing duties, we believe this will help to level the playing field.”

The Steel Manufacturers Association welcomed the DOC decision. Philip Bell, president of SMA said, “The Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) applauds the U.S. Department of Commerce preliminary decision on cold-rolled flat products. This is good news for domestic steelmakers, and underscores the need for our government to not only focus on negotiating trade deals but also on enforcing trade laws. With a few notable exceptions the duties applied seem to better reflect the high level of dumping that is currently taking place when compared to prior decisions. The single digit duties for India and South Korea were somewhat disappointing, but in general we are happy with the outcome.

“As countries who unfairly dump and subsidize their steel appear to be more brazen in their attempts to ship their over capacity to our shores, it is my hope that these duties will deter imports to some extent. Make no mistake U.S. steel producers are the safest, most productive and most sustainable steel producers in the world. It is my hope that this bodes well for the other pending trade cases.”

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