January 22, 2003
Letters to the editor: "Steel tariffs, pro and con"
The editorial endorsing the existing steel tariffs completely ignores the devastating consequences the tariffs have had on steel-consuming companies in the United States ("The steel tariffs," Editorial, Monday). Before declaring the steel tariffs a success, a closer look at the downside of tariffs is in order.
The steel tariffs have led to price increases, supply disruptions and massive business and financial losses to steel consumers in the United States. Many downstream industries are faced with the choice of going out of business or moving overseas, resulting in many thousands of American manufacturing workers losing their jobs. The tariff policy creates a situation in which steel producers are protected from competition while their customers must continue to compete in the global marketplace against foreign rivals with access to world-priced steel.
I also must take exception to the editorial's statement that the steel industry "could become dependent on tariff protection." Could become dependent? The U.S. steel industry has been shielded from international competition via tariffs, quotas, duties, voluntary restraint agreements and other trade restrictions by presidential administrations dating to Lyndon B. Johnson's. The latest bid by steel producers to expand tariffs to developing countries is yet more evidence that no amount of trade protection will ever satisfy steel producers.
Instead of considering new tariffs that would further damage steel users, the Bush administration needs to take a closer look at evidence of widespread damage to the economy caused by the tariffs. The only way to end this cycle of protection is to encourage steel producers to compete in the global market [-] like their customers do every day.
Jon E. Jenson
President Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition