Steel industry seeks diplomatic help to curb imports

An iconic American industry is asking for a little help in stopping importers from eating too much into its market. 

With imports threatening the domestic market, the Steel Manufacturers Association is asking for assistance from the U.S. government. The Steel Manufacturers Association, which represents the interests of 36 North American steelmakers—around 75 percent of  domestic output—has asked the top U.S. trade official to provide diplomatic help in limiting the amount of steel being imported from Europe.


The problem: The U.S. steel market is  stronger at the moment than others, particularly in Europe. The Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) says that this, along with European manufacturers failing to cut production even as oversupply issues become significant, has created an imbalance. Meanwhile,  domestic steel is selling at a substantial premium compared to steel products from abroad. This has led to massive increases in imports (particularly in cut-to-length steel plates) from countries such as Germany, Poland, France, and Italy—the last of which saw a massive 4,655 percent increase in its exports to the U.S.  between 2011 and 2012, according to SMA data.

The reaction: In a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman acquired by Reuters, the SMA asked for Washington’s help curbing steel imports. “The European governments should be encouraged to take steps to curb their own excess steel capacity,” it wrote. ”The United States cannot be the dumping ground for other countries’ excess supply.”

The SMA request comes in the wake of  a similar initiative by steel pipe producers to work with the U.S. International Trade Commission to limit imports from nine different countries.

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