MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SUPPORT ROLE
Washington, DC - More than 50 corporate executives representing America's consuming industries held 60 meetings on Capitol Hill yesterday with Members of Congress and their international trade staff. Among the offices and Members of Congress visited were House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI), Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX). The discussions focused on key trade issues of importance to downstream companies. Members of Congress welcomed more input from consumers and supported efforts to design a trade policy that takes into account all interested parties, including consumers and consuming industries
"Members of Congress from both parties with whom I met were very receptive to our message that consuming industries must have a role in the trade policymaking process and our proposals for making the process more inclusive," said Jon Jenson, Chairman of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), which organized the Hill event. "We told them we are concerned that the consequences of import restrictions on consuming industries are not being considered and we want to remedy the situation."
The Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) and The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), all brought representatives of metalworking companies to the lobbying event. These industries consume large amounts of domestic and imported steel. With the recent initiation of a 201 investigation of steel imports and a steel quota bill (HR 808) in the House, steel consumers had a strong case to present for inclusion.
"Thirteen different states were represented in our group of steel consumers. For each district or state represented, we provided Members of Congress with a comparison of steel jobs to jobs in steel-consuming industries in their district or state. In every single calculation for those 13 states, there were many more steel-consuming jobs, which isn't surprising since there are 9.4 million of us," said PMA Chairman Bill Sopko, Sr. of Stamco Industries in Euclid, Ohio.
Added Sopko, "A majority of the Members of Congress I met said the steel employment data will be enormously useful to them going forward. The reality is that many Members have only heard one side of the story. They need to know the negative consequences of quotas or other restrictions on steel imports for downstream users of steel, to any American who buys a car or a washing machine, and to the economy as a whole."
"These lawmakers get an earful from the domestic industry about how many steelworkers, families and communities are affected by imports. Well, multiply that by 50 and you've got the other side of the story. We are here to talk about the millions of American workers whose jobs are at risk without imports," said Bill Jens of Ataco Steel Products Corporation in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.
Steel consumers emphasized that consuming industries compete in a global market and need to obtain steel at prices comparable to those of their foreign competitors. "CITAC is making clear that the new push for import restrictions through Section 201 and steel quota legislation does not distinguish between steel that is fairly traded and steel that is not. Consuming industries need imports to stay competitive. If steel is fairly traded, it should have access to the U.S. market," said CITAC's counsel, Lewis Leibowitz of Hogan & Hartson.
Several other industries participated in the consuming industries' event, including those concerned about import restrictions on textiles, lumber and agricultural products. Quotas, high duties and other restrictions hurt consumers of these products and the end consumers - American families. CITAC asked Members of Congress to consider these consequences before supporting future initiatives, such as lumber trade cases or textile restrictions.
CITAC advocates reforms that would make consuming industries (purchasers of domestic and imported products) full parties to trade cases. In the steel 201 investigation, for example, CITAC proposes that consumers have a voice in the process through full-party status in the ITC investigation; that an orderly, balanced and inclusive review of the steel import situation be conducted; that new quotas or tariffs not be layered on top of existing restrictions; and that unrestricted imports of any steel products that are not available from U.S. suppliers be guaranteed.
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.
Statistics on steel-producing and steel-consuming jobs in the thirteen states represented yesterday by CITAC members is attached.