Jeff Sessions leads bipartisan effort to save a US industry

Both Marty and I are free-market-capitalism guys.  We do acknowledge, though, that in order to have free trade, we also need fair trade from our trading partners.  When the trade and the markets aren’t fair, something has to be done.

Senator Jeff Sessions, with his Democrat colleague Joe Donnelly led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending a letter to Irving Williamson, Chairman of the ITC, asking that Williamson hold the line on existing restrictions on countries that engage in dumping their subsidized hot-rolled steel into US steel markets.  The demand for steel is down all over the world, and it’s not fair trade to dump one’s country’s government-subsidized products on someone else, harming domestic industries. If Mr. Williamson relaxes restrictions, Alabama’s steel industry will suffer, along with the steel industries in other States.  From Sen. Session’s press release:

“Unfair trade practices from foreign competitors are in fact harming workers in our state and all across the country. It is in both our national and economic interest to defend the legitimate interests of American workers on the world stage. Agreements with our trading partners should apply to all equally. Our workers and businesses should be able to compete on a level playing field. It’s time our government did more to fight back.”

The full text of the letter, with it’s signatories, can be found below.

October 30, 2013


The Honorable Irving A. Williamson


U.S. International Trade Commission

500 E Street, S.W.

Washington, D.C. 20436


“Dear Chairman Williamson:


We are writing to encourage you to maintain the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders against unfairly traded imports of hot-rolled steel from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, and Ukraine.  These trade orders are necessary to prevent further injury to an already vulnerable domestic steel industry.


While the economy is growing slowly, the U.S. hot-rolled steel industry is in substantially worse condition than it was when the Commission last considered these trade remedies, five years ago.  The recent financial performance of domestic hot-rolled steel producers confirms that production and capacity utilization rates are down, and the industry’s rates of return are wholly inadequate to justify future investment.  Moreover, U.S. demand for hot-rolled steel remains weak and the overall health of the U.S. and global economy is unstable. 


At the same time, hot-rolled steel producers in all six countries are heavily export-oriented and have become even more so given depressed market conditions in their home and traditional export markets.  According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, global steel overcapacity is substantial and growing. Yet, these countries continue to expand their capacity at alarming rates.  With economic slowdowns in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia, foreign producers in these six counties will not hesitate to ship their dumped and subsidized excess steel into the United States, as they have in the past. 


As the Commission is aware, the Department of Commerce recently determined that revocation of the antidumping orders would likely lead these countries to dump hot-rolled steel into the United States at margins ranging from 4.41 percent to 90.83 percent, and that revocation of the countervailing duty orders would likely lead to continuation or recurrence of a countervailable subsidy at margins of more than 500 percent.  In other words, these trade remedy orders are the only thing preventing significant quantities of unfairly traded hot-rolled steel from these countries from quickly overwhelming an already vulnerable industry and causing harm to U.S. manufacturers and their workers.


Given the current state of the domestic industry and the ability of producers in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan and Ukraine to send significant quantities of hot-rolled steel to the U.S. market, removing the existing trade orders would harm the domestic industry and its workers.  As a result, we strongly urge you to maintain the existing orders against dumped and subsidized imports of hot-rolled steel.


Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this critical issue.


Respectfully submitted,


U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly

U.S. Senator John Boozman

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

U.S. Senator Richard Burr

U.S. Senator Robert Casey, Jr.

U.S. Senator Dan Coats

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin

U.S. Senator Al Franken

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator Carl Levin

U.S. Senator Rob Portman

U.S. Senator Mark Pryor

U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow”