CITAC STEEL CONSUMERS IMPLORE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT
"How bad does it have to get before we reverse our steel trade policy?"
Chicago, IL - Steel-using manufacturers pleaded during a meeting last week in Chicago with Grant D. Aldonas, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, to act with speed and urgency in addressing the downstream consequences of Section 201 tariffs on steel that are devastating American businesses.
"Steel-using manufacturers from Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois, and Missouri, among others, came all this way to provide more evidence that our steel trade policy has backfired and is in the process of tearing down the strong manufacturing sector these small business people have built over generations," the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition's (CITAC) President Jon Jenson told Aldonas.
The impassioned comments from the audience of some 50 business persons, members of CITAC's Steel Task Force, followed remarks by Aldonas at the September 6 public session of the Industry Sector Advisory Committee for Capital Goods (ISAC-2) at Chicago's McCormack Place. The ISAC is a forum to bring together government and business and is jointly administered by the Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
"One of the themes the ISAC wanted to discuss today was U.S. exports. These guys would love to export, but what's happening instead is that their business and American jobs are being exported to places where globally priced steel is available," said Jenson, a member of ISAC-2.
For example, an Illinois steel drum manufacturer complained about losing major business to Asia, citing domestic steel prices of nearly $600 per ton vs. $300 per ton abroad. A Wisconsin lawn-mower blade manufacturer, who buys only domestic steel, reported that he's forced to move his production operations offshore where competitively priced steel is available, and import the blades to serve his domestic customers.
A Chicago-based automotive supplier said that he previously exported products to several countries. With steel now 30 to 70 percent higher in price, he can no longer make those sales abroad. A metal fabricator complained that he lost 30 percent of his business last year, and expected to lose another 30 percent this year.
"How bad does it have to get before we reverse our steel trade policy?" asked Erick Ajax, President of E.J. Ajax & Sons, Inc. of Fridley, MN.
According to Jenson, CITAC will do everything it can to end the tariffs before the midpoint review, scheduled for September 2003. "We can't sacrifice a multitude of formerly healthy, efficient, small businesses so that a few non-competitive domestic steel producers can survive. Ending the tariffs is the only solution."
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 American firms.