Trade Cases

DOC to Hold Public Hearing on Section 232 Investigation on Wednesday

Written by John Packard

Later this week the U.S. Department of Commerce will hold public hearings for interested parties to voice their opinions regarding the Section 232 (national security) inquiry into the steel industry.

Many believe the conclusion of this investigation was predetermined at the time of the original announcement.

In the Fact Sheet produced by the U.S. Department of Commerce on April 21, 2017 entitled: Frequently Asked Questions: Section 232 Investigations: The Effect of Steel Imports on the National Security the DOC provided clues to the way they are leaning when they asked and answered the following questions:

4. Why has the Secretary of Commerce initiated a Section 232 on steel?

The Secretary initiated the investigation on steel imports in light of the large volumes of excess global steel production and capacity – much of which results from foreign government subsidies and other unfair practices – which distort the U.S. and global steel markets. Steel is used in a variety of commercial, infrastructure and defense applications. The Commerce Department’s January 2017 Steel Industry Executive Summary found that overall U.S. capacity utilization was 71 percent in 2016, a drop from 77.5 percent in 2014. In 2016, import penetration of steel mill products was 25.5 percent. March 2017 steel imports to the United States are 34 percent higher than those in March 2016, a dramatic increase. U.S. Government attempts to address foreign government subsidies and other unfair practices have not ended this distortion. There are 152 antidumping and countervailing duty orders on steel products in effect and another 25 investigations underway. The United States has encouraged other countries to reduce and address the underlying causes of excess capacity in the steel market. To date, these efforts have had little practical effect, and have not substantially alleviated the negative effect global excess capacity on the United States steel industry.

5. What does a Section 232 investigation consider?

Section 232 investigations include consideration of: domestic production needed for projected national defense requirements; domestic industry’s capacity to meet those requirements; related human and material resources; the importation of goods in terms of their quantities and use; the close relation of national economic welfare to U.S. national security; loss of skills or investment, substantial unemployment and decrease in government revenue; and the impact of foreign competition on specific domestic industries and the impact of displacement of any domestic products by excessive imports.

Late last week Steel Market Update spoke with Daniel Pearson of the Cato Institute. Pearson is a former International Trade Commission chairman and an expert of international trade. He had requested an opportunity to comment on behalf of free trade at the public hearing to be held this week. Pearson has testified before the Commerce Department on many other occasions but his request to speak this week was denied. As of Sunday evening the list of those speaking has not been made public.

The public hearing will hear speakers for a total of three hours beginning at 10 AM ET on Wednesday, May 24th. The hearing will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, Herbert C. Hoover Building, Main Auditorium. You can attend the hearing by registering by no later than Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 5 PM. Here is the link to register: www.bis.doc/232SteelHearing.

The hearing is also available to those unable to attend by Live Streaming which will be available through the same link shown above (www.bis.doc/232SteelHearing).

You may send written comments, data, analyses, or other information pertinent to this investigation no later than May 31, 2017 to  Or by postal mail to: Brad Botwin, Director, Industrial Studies, Office of Technology Evaluation, Bureau of Industry and Security, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 1093, Washington DC 20230.

SMU Steel Summit Conference 2017 will hear from Daniel Pearson and others on the Section 232 investigation, Section 337 complaint filed by USS against China, Circumvention complaint filed against Vietnam/China as well as the status of the AD/CVD trade duties which will be up for annual review at the time of our conference. We will have a separate panel which will discuss the meaning of “free and fair trade” from various perspectives. Included in that panel will be Philip Bell, President of the Steel Manufacturers Association (steel mills), Daniel Pearson, trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz and we have invited a large manufacturing group to participate in the discussion. You can find out more details about our conference including costs and how to register on our website: or you can contact our office at 800-432-3475.

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