ANGRY USERS OF STEEL AND LUMBER AMONG
Washington, DC - March 13, 2002 - Some 50 corporate executives from 12 states representing American manufacturers who use imported steel, lumber and other inputs are meeting today with more than 60 Members of Congress to strongly advocate measures to help steel users soon to be hit by steel tariffs up to 30%, duties on Canadian lumber and other trade restrictions. Executives will ask for support for common-sense changes to trade laws to give downstream industries a meaningful role in trade policymaking.
The executives, organized by the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC), include presidents and CEOs of businesses around the country. Many represent companies that consume large amounts of domestic and imported steel. They will advocate two important measures to ease the damage of restrictions on downstream steel users: a product exclusion/short supply initiative and a bill, The Transparency and Fairness Trade Act (HR 2770), to give consumers like them a greater role in trade policymaking
"Steel using manufacturers are angry that 30% tariffs have been imposed on many of our steel imports and we want to make sure that everything is done to protect the especially vulnerable downstream companies, such as those that use products that are in short supply or unavailable in the U.S. market," said CITAC Chairman Jon Jenson. "In addition, we want Members of Congress to know there's a bill out there that provides consuming industries with the opportunity to participate fully in future trade cases like the one that gave rise to these tariffs, plus a permanent mechanism for safeguarding the users of scarce products."
"We will also strongly encourage Members of Congress to oppose any kind of additional tax on steel sales that the Steel Caucus tries to get through the Congress, such as HR 808/S 957," continued Jenson.
The visiting executives are urging a bipartisan group of legislators to consider the consequences of trade restrictions on America's consuming industries, which employ many more workers than the industries pushing for trade protection. These executives cite both the current steel trade debate, as well as the U.S./Canada lumber conflict, as prime examples of why consuming industries should be fully involved in trade policy formulation.
"There's been a lot of discussion lately of the steel issue, but we can't forget that restraints on softwood lumber from Canada, for example, could damage the domestic economy and downstream users of lumber. New home buyers could pay almost $1,000 more per house if new restrictions are imposed on lumber and nearly 500,000 families might not qualify for mortgages to buy a new home at that rate," reported Janet Kopenhaver, Executive Director of CITAC.
"U.S. businesses that purchase domestic and imported products, including retailers, have very limited opportunities to participate in trade cases. For policymakers to have full information on the consequences of import restrictions, downstream industries must participate fully, including providing comments on all the evidence presented," Kopenhaver concluded.
To improve the overall environment for all downstream users, CITAC advocates passage of The Transparency and Fairness Trade Act (HR 2770), which would create opportunities for downstream industries to participate in and receive more balanced outcomes from the U.S. trade policymaking process. The bill has two essential components: 1) bring downstream industries into the trade debate by making purchasers full parties to trade cases; and 2) give specific authorization for the Department of Commerce to exempt imports temporarily from trade remedy actions if they are not made in the United States or are in short supply.
"We're proposing common sense trade law reforms to improve the process. In cases like the 201, tariffs would do less harm if downstream industries could apply for exemptions after realizing they need one or ask for restrictions to be reviewed when market conditions warrant it. Not every company is savvy about trade law. We're advocating a law to help American manufacturers succeed," said CITAC counsel Lewis Leibowitz.
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.