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Dara Klatt

March 18, 2003


The PBN Company







Request will ensure balanced mid-point review of steel tariff policy

Washington, DC: Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition Steel Task Force (CITAC STF) Chairman William Gaskin today praised as a "fair and reasonable approach" the U. S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee for formally requesting that the U. S. International Trade Commission (ITC) analyze the impact of the Section 201 steel tariffs on steel-consuming industries.

"This request will help ensure that steel producers' and steel consumers' needs are considered in the ITC's mid-point review of the tariffs," Gaskin said.

In a letter to ITC Chairman Deanna Tanner Okun, Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) writes "Since the President's March 20, 2002 imposition of tariffs&it has come to the attention of the Committee on Ways and Means that U.S. steel consuming industries are being impacted by the measures." Thomas continued, "Accordingly, on behalf of the Committee on Ways and Means of the United States . . . I am requesting that the [ITC] institute a fact-finding investigation of the current competitive conditions facing steel consuming industries in the United States, with respect to the tariffs . . . and to foreign competitors not subject to such measures.

Yesterday's request to the ITC was made under Section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930 which allows the President, the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to ask the ITC to conduct studies of international trade related questions. When asked, the ITC has a duty to provide all information at its disposal, and to conduct investigations looking into the questions presented.

"On behalf of the CITAC Steel Task Force and the 12 million Americans working in steel consuming industries, I commend Chairman Thomas and the Ways & Means Committee for taking this action to assure a balanced review of the Section 201 steel tariffs during the mid-point review process," said Gaskin.

"This request is the culmination of months of efforts by steel consumers and their supporters, and we are extremely gratified. Many Members of Congress have advocated that the impacts of the tariffs on steel consumers be carefully considered, as witnessed by the strong support given to House Concurrent Resolution 23 by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), which has 67 cosponsors in addition to Knollenberg. We believe that H. Con. Res. 23 was one important factor in calling attention to the need for a study," continued Gaskin.

"However, our work is not finished. The CITAC Steel Task Force's goal is to end these tariffs as soon as possible. We are confident that the ITC's analysis will show that the tariffs have had devastating unintended consequences for steel consumers," said Gaskin

The Committee's request calls for the ITC to include both the mid-point review and the 332 study in a single document. The President is to review this report before making a decision concerning whether the steel safeguard measures should be terminated or allowed to run for three years.

"The mid-point review process is intended to give the President a full picture of the effectiveness of the safeguard measures," said Lewis Leibowitz, Counsel to the CITAC STF. "Our coalition and our friends are very pleased that the President will now have the benefit of full disclosure of all the effects, intended and unintended, of the steel tariffs and quotas."

Steel consumers have been urging for months that the mid-point review include the impact of the steel tariffs on steel consumers. While the ITC is required by the safeguard statute to examine the effects of the steel tariffs at the mid-point review (September 20 2003), it was not required to consider the effects of the tariffs on steel consumers. The section 332 request now requires exactly such an investigation.

A CITAC study also released in February estimated that 200,000 people were unemployed last year because of higher steel prices  with steel tariffs playing an important role in those job losses. The study stated that more American workers were unemployed last year due to higher steel prices than the total number of people employed by U.S. steel producers.

Said Gaskin, "In these challenging times, the public and private sectors need to be working together to support U.S. manufacturing. Unfortunately, the steel tariffs have contributed to higher steel prices and supply shortages, and have dealt a severe blow to steel consumers' competitiveness," said Gaskin. "Steel consumers can not continue to be forced to either close their businesses or relocate overseas. Job losses due to competition from steel-consuming manufacturers in other countries are a continuing and increasing problem."

The Ways and Means Committee letter specifically requests the ITC study to include: Changes in employment, wages, profitability, sales productivity and capital investment in steel consuming industries, steel prices paid by consuming industries, steel shortages/availability, and lead times, among other factors.

Separately, the House Ways & Means Committee Trade Subcommittee announced that it would hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 26 on the impact of the steel safeguard on U.S. steel consuming industries and the U.S. economy. This hearing will be a balanced presentation on the impacts of the steel tariffs on steel consuming industries, steel producers and the U.S. economy.

A copy of Chairman Thomas' letter to ITC Chairman can be found 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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