Congressional Steel Caucus
September 14, 2000
Statement of Jon E. Jenson, President Emeritus of Precision Metalforming Association and Chairman, Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Congressional Steel Caucus:

My name is Jon Jenson. I am President Emeritus of the Precision Metalforming Association ("PMA") and the Chairman of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition ("CITAC"). I am a little tired, but pleased to be here with you today.

PMA is a 1600-member association that promotes the interests of the North American Metal Working industry. Our members, most of whom are small businesses, give utility to sheet metal and use one fourth of all the steel produced in North America. The industry employs over 320,000 workers, nearly twice the number of steel workers in this country. Many of them themselves are union members.

CITAC is a coalition of consuming industries in this country that use goods and services to manufacture products in America with American workers. We believe open and expanding trade is the best way to improve the competitiveness of American industry.

The Congressional Steel Caucus exists to "promote and expand the economic viability of the American steel industry and the jobs of its workers." We at PMA and CITAC share that goal. Steel users need a viable and competitive steel producing industry. We are worried that current policies not only punish consumers by restricting trade; they also are preventing steel producers from improving their own competitiveness.

Trade laws have been designed for the steel industry. We have heard speaker after speaker this morning lament unfair imports that cost American steel industry jobs. Their solution is to make these trade laws "more effective" to keep more imports out. In our judgment, that is no solution, and I will tell you why.

Steel producers, in the view of many of the customers they serve, are not competitive right now. Their costs are high, their quality and responsiveness are low. They are not very good, by and large (and there are exceptions) at bringing their customers the right steel at the right time and at the right price (a world competitive price). Foreign producers of many steel products are, like it or not, simply better than U.S. producers at these things. If they remain inferior, they will risk the jobs and careers of the steel workers they employ.

CITAC and PMA want the steel industry to succeed. To do so, they will have to get competitive in a hurry. Making trade laws more protectionist than they already are will not achieve this goal. The only way to do it is to make cost-reduction, responsiveness to customer needs and quality improvement their top priorities.

As the people who pay the bills for trade protection (antidumping, countervailing duties, safeguards), America's consuming industries should by right have a say in trade cases. We should be able to point out where companies that seek protection are falling down on the job, when their calculations are incorrect and why the duties they seek are too high. Unfortunately, these things do happen.

Trade laws have the consequence of hurting people downstream. We are those people. We do not seek repeal of these laws; we only seek that they be responsive to the needs of all Americans, including the growing number of businesses that are dependent on international trade for their supplies.

Thank you.






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