|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
Youngstown, Ohio – U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) has filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed last month by Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation of St. Clairsville, Ohio against 15 foreign steel manufacturers. The suit was filed in the Belmont County (OH) Court of Common Pleas in St. Clairsville. It alleges that the companies are violating international trade law by illegally dumping steel in the U.S. at far below market prices. "The combination of massive steel imports and below market value prices have caused intense price distortion across the U.S. steel industry," noted Traficant in his brief. "Deteriorating prices have forced U.S. producers to slow production, slash expenditures, and lay off employees to compensate for the flood of foreign steel dumping. All of our domestic steel enterprises, including Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation, are suffering dire consequences," added Traficant, a senior member of the Congressional Steel Caucus.
In his brief, which was filed on Monday, Traficant noted that WCI Steel of Warren, Ohio is among those U.S. steel plants being forced to make cutbacks and layoffs because of the illegal dumping of foreign steel. Two hundred workers at WCI have been laid off in recent months. WCI is in Traficant's congressional district. "As a Member of Congress, it is my duty and responsibility to ensure that U.S. trade laws, and international trade agreements to which the United States is a signor, are properly implemented and actively enforced," noted Traficant. "As the elected representative of a steel-producing region, I have been contacted by the U.S. steel industry, U.S. steel producers, and U.S. steelworkers across the nation with respect to the allegations of the dumping of steel and steel-products in the U.S. market by our foreign competitors."
Traficant informed the court that his investigation of these allegations found the following: 1) the price of foreign steel has declined dramatically and below home country market value in the past year, 2) the importation of foreign steel into the U.S. has increased more than 100 percent in many cases, 3) the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Commerce have not promptly concluded an anti-dumping investigation and have not even enforced U.S. trade rights under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) with respect to foreign steel dumping, and 4) the President of the United States has not directly responded, either personally or through an executive agency, to two directives by the U.S. Congress to immediately investigate and remedy the injury to domestic producers by foreign steel dumping.
As steel prices have declined, steel imports have risen, exponentially.
In the first seven months of 1997, steel imports have seen a 47 percent
increase over 1997's record level for the same period. Many countries'
total steel imports to the United States are, for the first seven months
of 1998, already exceeding their levels of steel imports for all of 1997.
For example, year-to-date steel imports are up 141 percent from Japan,
up 95 percent from South Korea, up 124 percent from South Africa, up 160
percent from Australia, up 68 percent from Ukraine, up 387 percent from
Indonesia, and up 71 percent from India, over the same period last year.
Traficant noted that U.S. steel companies have petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to protest the dumping of foreign steel and seek remedy. In light of overwhelming and ongoing evidence, however, the Department of Commerce has been slow to respond. When the allegations of illegal dumping were brought to Traficant's attention in October 1998, he directed his staff to contact USTR to determine how far the agency was in its investigation. A USTR representative assured Traficant's office that not only had USTR and the Commerce Department compiled an enormous amount of information and statistics on foreign steel dumping, but they had been doing so for quite some time.
Traficant also noted in his brief that the President has not responded to the directives of Congress. On October 15th, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution authored by Traficant calling for an immediate 10-day investigation of alleged dumping of steel into the U.S. by foreign steelmakers. The Traficant resolution further calls on the Administration to impose a one-year ban on all steel imports from any country found to be violating the spirit and letter of international trade agreements with respect to dumping or other illegal actions. Similar language was included in the fiscal year 1999 omnibus appropriations bill recently signed into law by the President. To date, the President has not responded to the substance of the resolution.
Traficant concluded his brief with a strong endorsement of Wheeling-Pittsburgh's suit. "America has the most productive, hard working and skilled steelworkers in the world," stated Traficant. "On a level playing field American steelworkers will always beat the competition. But the playing field is not level. I cannot tolerate this sacrifice of American jobs for the economies of distant countries. I cannot allow another long-standing American enterprise to fall prey to unfair foreign competition. I, therefore, request that you rule in favor of the plaintiff, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation and grant a temporary restraining order and award preliminary and permanent injunctive relief," concluded Traficant.2009