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US steel imports may hit record in 2006 due to unfair trade practices, industry group says

US steel imports may hit record in 2006 due to unfair trade practices, industry group says

The United States is likely to import a record amount of steel this year, a sign that it needs to address unfair trade practices by China and other Asian exporters, the American Iron and Steel Institute said.
Based on preliminary data released Wednesday by the Census Bureau, the industry trade group said that steel imports could reach 46 million tons in 2006, above the previous record of 41.5 million tons set in 1998.
The AISI represents over 30 U.S. steel companies, including Charlotte, North Carolina-based Nucor Corp., Pittsburgh-based United States Steel Corp. and Lisle, Illinois-based IPSCO Inc.
The Census Bureau reported that imports jumped 45 percent through October of this year, to 38.8 million tons, up from 26.8 million tons in the same period in 2005. The United States imported an additional 3.4 million tons in November, the bureau said.
The AISI said much of the increase stems from countries with "a history of unfair trading," including China, India and several other Asian countries. Imports from Taiwan have increased 213 percent so far this year, the group said, and imports from China are up 135 percent.
U.S. steel imports from China reached 4.3 million tons in the first 10 months of this year, according to Census Bureau data, up from 2 million tons in the same period last year.
Andrew Sharkey, president and CEO of AISI, said the increase from China "underscores the need" for the United States and other North American governments to "more aggressively press China to abandon its currency manipulation, export subsidies, trade barriers and other anticompetitive practices that deny North American steel producers a level playing field."
"It is imperative that the problem of unfair trade, which continues to confront this and many other U.S. manufacturing industries, be fully and firmly addressed," Sharkey said.
U.S. manufacturers have long criticized China for allegedly keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar, which makes its exports to the United States less expensive.
The import numbers do not reflect the impact of a vote earlier this month by the U.S. International Trade Commission to revoke a set of tariffs on high-grade steel imports used in cars. An official at the United Steelworkers union criticized that move for putting the U.S. steel industry "at the mercy of foreign producers who routinely have taken advantage of our open market to dump their unfairly traded steel."
But some analysts have argued that further trade protection for the steel industry is unnecessary.
Daniel Ikenson, associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies, said in a report last month, "By every relevant financial yardstick, the industry is performing phenomenally and investors are bullish about its future."
"To continue ... trade restrictions on behalf of an industry that is in enviable health," Ikenson wrote, "is an injustice to ... taxpayers and consumers."
Shares of U.S. Steel rose $1.60, or 2.2 percent, to close at $73.89 on the New York Stock Exchange, while shares of Nucor rose 75 cents to close at $55.69 on the NYSE. Shares of IPSCO jumped $2.09, or 2.25 percent, to finish at $95.12 on the NYSE.


Updated : 2021-04-16 18:21 GMT+08:00