Trade Cases

Domestic producers prevail in Japanese tin mill product trade case

Written by Laura Miller

A vote on Friday by the International Trade Commission (ITC) ensures that antidumping duties on certain steel sheet imports from Japan will continue for the mid-term.

After conducting a five-year sunset review, the ITC voted that imports of tin- and chromium-coated steel sheet from Japan are injuring, or threatening to injure, the domestic market. The agency will release details on its reasoning for the affirmative vote at a later date.

Cleveland-Cliffs, one of the two interested domestic producer parties participating in the trade case, applauded the vote.

“While we are disappointed in their previous ruling on tin mill products, the ITC got this one right,” Cliffs’ chairman, president, and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said in a statement on Friday.

Recall that last year, Cliffs and the United Steelworkers (USW) brought a trade case against tin mill product imports from a host of countries. However, in February, the ITC voted against imposing duties and Cliffs said it had to idle its Weirton, W.Va., mill as a result.

The USW told SMU in an email on Friday it is pleased the ITC voted to uphold the duties.

U.S. Steel was the other participating domestic party. In an emailed statement to SMU, the steelmaker said: “We appreciate the Commission’s vote to continue antidumping duties on Japanese tin mill. The Commission correctly found that unfairly traded Japanese tin mill would harm U.S. Steel and its workers.”

Nippon Steel and JFE Steel were the two interested Japanese parties taking part in the case, and neither could be reached for comment.

Cliffs responds to Friday’s vote

Cliffs used the ITC’s vote to highlight how foreign ownership of American mills could affect domestic trade cases.

The US currently has antidumping duty orders in place on 12 Japanese steel products, and Nippon Steel Corp. (NSC) is Japan’s largest steel and tin mill product producer, Cliffs pointed out.

Goncalves said these facts and the ITC’s decision support their position “that Japan is a bad trade partner with the United States, particularly in steel.”

“It also underscores the importance of American ownership of our steel industry. Had Nippon Steel owned US tin mill production, Nippon could have exerted influence to make it impossible for American companies and workers to correct unfair practices through our US trade laws,” he added.

SMU asked Nippon Steel and U.S. Steel about their future participation in US trade cases once their merger is finalized, which they expect will be in the second half of this year. Nippon did not respond, while USS declined to comment.

Laura Miller

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