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Cliffs, USW File Trade Case Targeting Imported Tin Mill Products

Written by Michael Cowden

Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. and the United Steelworkers (USW) union have filed a trade case targeting imports of tin mill products from eight countries.

The Cleveland-based steelmaker said the petition seeks antidumping duties against imports of tin- and chromium-coated sheet steel from Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The case also seeks countervailing duties against imports from China.

“There has been a significant surge in unfairly priced tinplate imports flooding the United States over the past two years, and we cannot let this persist,” Cliffs chair, president and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement.

Cliffs alleges the following dumping margins:

Tin Mill Dumping Margins

The allegedly dumped and subsidized imports “have taken sales from the domestic industry and made it impossible to obtain a fair rate of return on domestic operations, putting the future of American-made tin mill products at risk,” Cliffs said.

Cliffs makes tin mill products at its mill in Weirton, W.Va. The company said it sells about 300,000 net tons of tin mill products per year there – or ~2% of companywide steel sales volumes.

The Weirton mill also employs approximately 950 people, most of them represented by the USW, the company said.

The next steps are for the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to decide whether the domestic industry has been injured or is threatened with injury by tin plate imports. If the ITC votes that tin plate imports have caused injury, the Commerce Department will calculate duty margins.

The US imported 933,642 metric tons of tin plate in 2022, up nearly 22% from 767,352 ton in 2021, and up nearly 34% from 697,327 tons in 2020, according to Commerce Department figures.

The Netherlands (227,431 tons) was the largest foreign supplier of tin plate to the US last year, followed by Germany (222,124 tons), Canada (165,390 tons), and China (116,613 tons).

Tin mill products are widely used in packaging, notably in canned foods. They are also used to make aerosol cans and paint pails.

The US has seen several tin mill idlings in recent years.

US Steel indefinitely idled the tin mill at its Gary Works in northwest Indiana last fall. The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker blamed the move in part on imports, which it said had come to account for approximately 60% of domestic consumption.

The company also indefinitely idled its East Chicago tin finishing plant in 2019. And mill equipment from its USS-UPI subsidiary in Pittsburg, Calif., is reported to be up for sale.

USS-UPI has annual production capability of 1.5 million tons. It makes cold-rolled and galvanized sheet, as well as tin mill products, from hot bands principally provided by US Steel. The Central Valley of California is home to a massive agricultural industry that is an important consumer of tin mill products. USS-UPI had previously been a 50-50 joint venture between US Steel and South Korean steelmaker Posco. US Steel took full control of the company early in 2020.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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