CONSUMERS TO ITC: "STEEL IMPORT RESTRICTIONS STEAL JOBS"
Washington, DC - The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) today led a panel of steel users testifying before the International Trade Commission (ITC) in the remedy hearing of the 201 steel investigation. Chairman Jon Jenson opened the presentation, saying, "We strongly oppose import restrictions on steel. We believe that they will not work and would devastate American steel-using manufacturers - particularly in this period of recession - by dramatically raising their cost of raw materials, and increasing competition from abroad for products they make."
Jenson also reminded the Commissioners that there are 57 times as many U.S. workers in steel consuming industries as in steel production. Based on research by the CITAC Foundation, the tariff remedies sought by U.S. producers translate into 30,000 job losses in steel-consuming sectors. "We cannot allow our steel-using manufacturers to be sacrificed in a vain effort to prop up a few ailing steel producers," said Jenson.
Others testifying on a panel of consuming industries opposing restrictions on steel imports included Mark J. Erickson, President of Thomas Engineering Company and Chairman of the Precision Metalforming Association; James Zawacki, President of GR Spring and Stamping of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and William E. Sopko, President and CEO of Stamco industries in Euclid, Ohio. CITAC member company Emerson, St. Louis, Missouri, also provided testimony, along with Dennis Rochford, President of the Maritime Exchange of the Delaware River & Bay, the Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT), Berg Steel Pipe Corp. and the Coalition for Free Trade in Steel, a coalition of U.S. ports.
Erickson, Sopko and Zawacki all represent small, privately held metalforming companies. They argued that while they are aware of the difficulties facing the domestic integrated producers, downstream users of steel, according to Erickson, "cannot afford to pay the bill" for solving the industry's problems.
For these companies, steel imports are a necessity not a choice. Jim Zawacki testified that his company buys steel, imported and domestic, based on his needs and the needs of his customer in terms of specifications, quality, consistency, and competitive price.
Zawacki added, "As a supplier to the automotive and appliance industries, I can tell you that cost increases cannot be passed on to my customers, and I cannot afford to absorb them. They will turn my margins negative and put my company on the road to ruin."
"High steel tariffs will hand an unbeatable advantage to our foreign competitors," who will be able to meet customer needs at the right price, testified Erickson. "Many steel users will migrate offshore and others will lose business to foreign competitors."
Each speaker provided information on the ratio of steel-using to steel-producing jobs in the states they represent. Even in Ohio, known for steel production, there are 20 steel-using jobs for every steel-producing job. Overall, there are 12.8 million steel-consuming jobs in the U.S. An interactive map of the United States created by CITAC provides the steel-consuming and steel-producing employment statistics for every state and district in the United States.
Bill Sopko returned to the ITC today, having testified in the injury phase in September. He introduced a CITAC exhibit showing U.S. steel prices in October that were already as high or higher than in other major world markets. According to Sopko, "For this reason alone, an import remedy that raises steel prices here but not elsewhere will destroy many jobs in the United States that rely on steel." Mark Erickson put it more succinctly - "Steel import restrictions steal jobs."
CITAC-member companies will also provide testimony in ITC remedy hearings on November 8 and 9. Congressional allies of steel users will appear before the Commission as well.
CITAC is a coalition of companies and organizations committed to promoting a trade arena where U.S. consuming industries and their workers have access to global markets for imports that enhance the international competitiveness of U.S. firms.