The Columbus Dispatch
January 18, 2003
Letters To The Editor: "Steel Tariffs simply led to price increases"
A report contained within a Dec. 29 Dispatch roundup of events of 2002 (headlined "Steel tariffs: still drawing fire'') presented an inaccurate and biased analysis of the steel tariffs issue. Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind's assertion that President's Bush's steel tariffs were in response to "dumping'' is wrong. Rather, the Section 201 investigation that led to the tariffs only determined whether increased imports were causing injury to the U.S. domestic-steel industry.
Tariffs were supposed to give the domestic industry breathing space to consolidate and become internationally competitive. International Steel Group's purchase of LTV was announced before the March 5, 2002, tariff decision. There is no evidence that the domestic steel industry has used this breathing space for anything except to raise prices to the harm of steel consumers. Price increases severely threaten the competitiveness of U.S. steel-using manufacturers.
Jim Cowan, president of V&M Star in Youngstown and co-chairman of the Ohio Steel Council, was disingenuous in stating that the volume of imported steel remains high. Steel imports were up in 2002 because the domestic steel industry imported semi-finished steel at a record pace. Semi-finished steel, used exclusively by the domestic-steel industry, was up 35 percent in 2002. Finished steel imports, used by its customers, were down 1.5 percent.
The domestic steel industry keeps complaining about the imports, for which the industry is responsible.
My organization is part of the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition, which includes steel consumers and associations such as the American Institute for International Steel, which was misidentified in the article.
William E. Gaskin
Precision Metalforming Association