EDWARDSVILLE — The U.S. Department of Commerce’s preliminary decision that steel producers in seven countries unfairly exported hot-rolled, flat steel to the United States could have a significant positive impact on U.S. Steel Corp.’s idled Granite City mill, Madison County Board Chairman Alan J. Dunstan said in a press release Wednesday.
“The men and women at Granite City Steel produce the finest hot-rolled steel in the world but have been victimized by unfair business practices, as proven by the Department of Commerce,” Dunstan said. “All the workers laid off from Granite City Steel want is a level playing field and to get back to work. This decision moves them one step closer to those goals.”
The agency ruled late Tuesday that manufacturers in Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom violated international trade regulations by improperly subsidizing steel producers in those countries and dumping hot-rolled steel at below market prices in the United States.
As a result of this decision, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will require cash deposits to cover imposed duties be placed in escrow pending a final decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which is expected in September.
“The resolution of this case is important and positive, but it is not a permanent solution to the problem of inferior, imported steel,” Dunstan said. “We still need to do everything possible to keep this issue in the forefront with our elected officials in Washington, D.C., and with the Department of Commerce.”
The trade case, filed last August by six U.S. steel companies, including the U.S. Steel Corp., claimed illegal trade practices resulted in a 73 percent increase in hot-rolled steel exported into the United States from the seven countries.
According to information provided by United Steelworkers, imports from the seven countries during the period from January through May 2015 rose an additional 54 percent versus the same time period in 2014.
Hot-rolled steel is primarily used in appliances, automotive products, heavy machinery, machine parts, nonresidential construction and transportation equipment. A portion of hot-rolled steel is also further processed into cold-rolled, and galvanized or plated steel products.
In February, Dunstan led a contingent that included Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer, USW Local 1899 President Dan Simmons and Local 50 President Jason Chism to Washington, D.C., for meetings on Capitol Hill in support of the steel industry and Granite City Works employees. The contingent met with Sen. Mark Kirk, U.S. congressmen from Southern Illinois and the greater St. Louis area, and officials from the Department of Commerce.