CITAC STEEL TASK FORCE APPLAUDS NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS' COMMITTEE VOTE URGING PRESIDENT BUSH TO CONSIDER IMPACT OF STEEL TARIFFS ON CONSUMERS
NAM Acknowledges that Steel Tariffs Have Impact Across Sectors
Washington, DC Members of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) Steel Task Force (STF) called today's approval of a steel trade policy statement by the trade committee of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) strong evidence that steel consumers' voices are starting to be heard in Washington, and a step forward in efforts to convince the Bush Administration to end the steel tariffs at the mid-point review process in September 2003.
The NAM International Economic Policy Committee overwhelmingly approved the resolution on the steel trade issue, based on a document developed by a working group of steel producers and consumers.
One significant amendment approved by the committee, added a clause to the NAM resolution urging that "the President instruct the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to gather evidence of the impact of the Section 201 steel tariffs on both steel producers and steel consumers and to report findings no later than July 2003."
The mid-term review process is scheduled to begin early next year and requires the President to review the ITC's report on the effects of the steel tariffs. "We are aware of the inadequacies in the law for considering the impact on the consuming industry," said Lewis Leibowitz of Hogan & Hartson and Counsel to the CITAC STF. "However, we believe that the law provides ample authority for the President to consider the effects of the tariffs on the steel industry's customers, and this is what the NAM resolution asks the President to do."
"The resolution is by no means perfect and includes statements that our members frankly do not support. Nonetheless, it is significant that NAM is involved for the first time in the steel debate," stated Leibowitz. "Steel consumers have a legitimate role in the mid-term review process, and the resolution acknowledges this fact."
NAM, with 14,000 members, is the largest association of manufacturers in the United States and had not previously taken a position on the issue of the 201 steel tariffs. The resolution now goes to the NAM Board of Directors. If approved, NAM would acknowledge that that steel tariffs have impacted multiple sectors of the manufacturing industry and is not a "sectoral dispute" as claimed by the domestic steel industry.
David Pritchard, President of Avon, Ohio-based A.J. Rose Manufacturing Company stated, "I came to Washington to see what I could do to press NAM in a direction that can help steel consumers. The policy resolution approved today is not an ultimate solution, but it is movement in the right direction for all manufacturers."
The resolution notes that steel tariffs have led to price increases, supply disruptions and business and financial losses to steel consumers. It also stresses that steel consumers' needs should be considered in formulating international steel policy, urges the U.S. government to provide U.S. manufacturers with a level playing field in the global market, and recommends that a "Blue Ribbon" panel of experts analyze challenges to competitiveness, including tariffs.
"The action today by NAM's International Economic Policy Committee on the steel trade issue is a first step forward for the small manufacturers, including makers of steel drums and pails, that are the engine of the U.S. economy and make up the bulk of NAM's membership," said John McQuaid, Executive Director of the Steel Shipping Container Institute.
McQuaid continued, "It is now incumbent on the NAM leadership to act favorably on this recommended policy statement which, in the end, does nothing more than to urge the Bush Administration to consider all of the facts in assessing the impact of the President's March 2002 tariff edict."
Today's vote is a continuation of a process that began in October, when NAM's Board of Directors instructed the International Economic Policy Committee to convene to "develop a policy position on steel trade that is appropriate for all constituencies." In November, manufacturers from a wide range of sectors, including auto parts, stamping, appliance, plastic, lawn furniture, and the fastener industry presented evidence to the International Economic Policy Committee of the tariffs damage to the U.S. economy.
"Now that NAM has acted," said Leibowitz, "the CITAC Steel Task Force calls on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable to follow NAM's lead and take up this important issue that is impacting steel consumers in this country."