Hundreds of steelworkers and their supporters rallied outside the U.S. Steel Research and Technology Center in Munhall Monday morning to bring attention to what they say is illegal dumping of South Korean steel pipe into United States markets.
Dumping refers to the act of charging a lower price for a product on the international market than on the domestic market. It can also refer to the practice of selling a product for less than it costs to produce.
In July 2013, domestic steel producers filed a trade case with the U.S. Department of Commerce alleging that South Korean companies are doing the latter with their steel pipes in an effort to drive U.S. steel manufacturers out of business.
“They’re not going to use one single piece of pipe in South Korea,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA 14) said at Monday’s rally. “Their plan is to dump it all in this country and take away American jobs.”
In February, the department published a preliminary analysis in response to the allegations, saying no evidence of dumping was found. But domestic steel producers, workers, labor unions and elected officials said further investigation is needed before a final decision is made in July.
On Friday, 57 U.S. senators from both parties signed a letter to the Department of Commerce saying they would “not tolerate anything but the strictest enforcement of our trade laws against unfair trade practices.”
The pipes in question are used in the extraction of natural gas and oil. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA 18) is chair of the House Steel Caucus and said there is no reason to be using anything but American-made steel pipes in the booming natural gas industry.
“We ought to be putting down pipes made here in America, hundreds of miles of them, made from plants here and across this country, not bringing in pipe from other countries,” Murphy said.
Tom Conway, international vice president of the United Steelworkers, said he believes U.S. trade policy should be completely revamped to incentivize companies to use American made goods.
“But until that time, we rely on our government to enforce those trade agreements as best they can,” Conway said. “In this instance, the Department of Commerce failed miserably. They needed to put a significant duty on those pipes, and they didn’t.”
Domestic steelmakers leveled similar charges against Chinese producers in 2008. In that case, the Department of Commerce found that the Chinese had engaged in dumping, and the subsequent duties imposed on imports successfully shrunk the amount of steel being imported into the U.S. from China.