May 9, 2003   The PBN Company


Steel Consumers Continue to Suffer; WTO Ruling Not Surprising

Washington, DC: A steel price chart released today by the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition Steel Task Force (CITAC STF) based on April 2003 data shows that the United States, and especially the U.S. West Coast, continues to be at the high end of steel prices worldwide. The chart, which includes hot-rolled, cold-rolled and galvanized steel - the last two important products used by steel consumers - presents a complete picture of U.S. versus international steel prices one year after the Bush Administration imposed up to 30% steel tariffs.

"We have been saying for over a year how the steel tariffs and over 200 countervailing and antidumping duty orders have pushed steel prices higher and higher, which has had the effect of destroying many U.S. manufacturers that use steel," said CITAC STF Chairman William Gaskin. "The new April data demonstrates these claims, showing that steel consumers are operating under a severe competitive disadvantage compared with their foreign counterparts."

According to data from an international April steel price monitoring report, steel prices are well above globally competitive levels on the U.S. West Coast, where a large number of steel users manufacture products, and are also high in the Midwest and Gulf Coast. The chart (attached) is calculated from world market prices based on the cost of steel plus freight charges (an estimated $40 per metric ton). When charges for freight are incorporated, all of the countries' prices are then based on a more comparable pricing scale, and U.S. prices continue to exceed those of Europe and even China, which has recently had a price spike.

For cold-rolled steel prices, all three sections of the U.S. - the West Coast at $504 per metric tonne, Gulf Coast at $475, and Midwest at $470 - exceed that of all European countries and meet or exceed China's price at $470. For galvanized steel prices, the U.S. West Coast again is especially high at $602 per metric ton, and is $52 more than in China. And in hot-rolled steel prices, the U.S. West Coast (at $393 per metric tonne) closely follows the UK (at $397).

Laura Baughman, Economist at the Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC added, "While the gap has narrowed between U.S. and world prices, American manufacturers continue to pay more for steel than their overseas competitors, in large part because the 201 steel tariffs increase domestic prices and reduce availability of steel. These twin blows are hurting consumers each and every day."

Gaskin also stated, "With the International Trade Commission (ITC) set to analyze the effect of the tariffs during the mid-point review, it is essential that policymakers, the media and the public alike have all the facts on steel prices. And steel prices are only part of the story: steel users continue to suffer from inconsistent quality and reduced availability of steel when they need it. We hope that if we continue to present the accurate and complete data, steel consumers' voices will be heard."

CITAC STF Counsel Lewis Leibowitz commented on the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that the 201 tariffs violate global trade rules.

"While the U.S. has a right to appeal the WTO decision, based on precedent, there is every reason to believe that the U.S. will not prevail on appeal because the findings of the ITC do not meet WTO requirements established in previous cases. The WTO's adherence to the Safeguard Agreement provisions is unsurprising, since it permits member countries to disregard the tariff concessions they made in trade negotiating rounds," stated Leibowitz.

"Consumers in the United States have suffered from the imposition of these safeguard measures on steel and other products. The WTO decision should prompt the U.S. and other governments to reconsider the wisdom of measures that not only violate world trade rules but also sacrifice their own consuming industries. The CITAC Steel Task Force urges the President to terminate the steel tariffs at the mid point review in September. If tariffs continue and U.S. prices remain one of the highest in the world, steel consumers across the country will lose more business to offshore competitors and the steel industry's customer base will be damaged beyond repair," concluded Leibowitz.

The new CITAC STF price chart is available here.

CITAC is a coalition of companies and organizations committed to promoting a trade arena where U.S. consuming industries have access to global markets for imports that enhance the international competitiveness of American firms. The CITAC Steel Task Force is comprised of steel consumers working to achieve the termination of the 201 steel tariffs by mid-point review and reform U.S. trade laws and policies to benefit U.S. steel consumers.




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