Portman-Authored Law Leads to Three Big Wins for Ohio Steelworkers
Because of Senator Portman’s Leveling the Playing Field Act, which was signed into law last year, the International Trade Commission (ITC) and Commerce Department are now beginning to use the new tools they were given by the legislation to ensure that Ohio workers can get relief more quickly if foreign competitors like China continue to cheat—without having to wait until plants are shuttered and workers lose their jobs.
Since the law’s passage and since Portman testified before the ITC, the ITC has consistently ruled in favor of Ohio steelworkers. On June 22, it voted unanimously to find that the American steel industry has been materially injured by imports of cold-rolled steel from China and Japan. Then, on June 24, the ITC unanimously determined that imports of corrosion-resistant steel from China, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan are causing injury to U.S. steel producers. Just last week, the ITC ruled that hot-rolled steel was being dumped and subsidized by foreign steel competitors and injuring American steelworkers. As a result, in all three cases the Commerce Department will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders as high as 265 percent on steel coming from these foreign competitors.
In May, Portman urged the ITC to fully use the tools given to them in the Leveling the Playing Field Act when determining whether the dumping and subsidies were causing material injury to companies like ArcelorMittal, AK Steel, Nucor, and U.S. Steel. Portman – who has been named a “Congressional Steel Champion” by the steel industry – discussed all three steel cases in his testimony before the commission:
“The major reason layoffs are happening is because the U.S. market is being flooded with unfair imports. Take, for example, just the steel at issue in these three cases: from 2013 to 2015, U.S. imports of cold rolled steel increased by more than 110 percent, imports of hot-rolled steel doubled, and imports of corrosion-resistant steel increased by 75 percent. That was just in two years. And these increases continue. …
“I am confident that when you review the record in each of these cases, you will find that domestic producers have suffered material injury by reason of unfair trade. Unfairly-traded imports not only prevented domestic producers from taking full advantage of stronger demand conditions in 2014, but contributed to a dramatic decline in prices in 2015. The results have been disastrous. Last year, for example, U.S. producers of cold-rolled steel suffered a net loss of $162.4 million. U.S. producers of corrosion-resistant steel suffered a net loss of $77.6 million. …
“I know this Commission to be a diligent and thoughtful body that has been given a great responsibility by Congress: the responsibility to enforce our AD and CVD laws in a manner that will lead to better and fairer market competition. In fulfilling that responsibility, I urge you to pay close attention to our recent clarification of the injury standard, and to ensure that our laws are strictly enforced. Otherwise, we risk encouraging further market-distorting practices by foreign competitors.”
Ohio steelworkers produce the highest quality steel in the world, and yet they are facing a crisis. Nearly 1,500 Ohio steelworkers were laid off last year, but now the ITC is beginning to recognize exactly what Senator Portman has told them: that unfair, dishonest, and illegal practices from competitors in countries like China are hurting our communities. These rulings, which were the result of Senator Portman’s new law and followed his testimony, are the next step in leveling the playing field for Ohio workers.