Foreign Steel A Steal?

Earlier this month, a number of US steel producers filed a joint complaint with the US government. Their grievance: the subsidies that make imported steel cheaper. The end goal of the complaint, essentially, is the implementation of import duties that would level the playing field. You know, for a country that was pretty much built on capitalism, America sure has a lot of giant, multi-million or –billion dollar companies that don’t seem to understand how the concept works.

Life’s Unfair & Then You Die

AK Steel Corporation, ArcelorMittal USA, California Steel Industries, Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., and United States Steel Corporation collectively filed the complaint with the US Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission. Specifically, the group is concerned with imported steel with special, high corrosion resistance plating that is being brought in on the cheap from China, India, Italy, South Korea, and Taiwan.

NOT the movie starring Shaquille O'Neal.

NOT the movie starring Shaquille O’Neal.

According to the complaint, this quintet of nations benefited from numerous subsidies not available to American steel suppliers. The united United States steel companies say that material injury has been done to their businesses and the domestic steel industry as a whole.

The US steel producers identified 48 individual subsidy programs in China, 88 in India, 12 in Italy, 43 in Korea, and 22 in Taiwan. Thanks to the rampant subsidies, Team USA says, imports of corrosion resistant steel from the five offending countries grew by roughly 85 percent to nearly 2.75 million tons in 2014. Additionally, dumping margins, a tactic by which overseas steel mills keep their prices artificially low, were as high as 120 percent for Chinese and Italian steel.

While I agree that it’s total BS that suppliers from other countries are receiving an unfair advantage here, I am also one hundred percent certain that the US steel companies involved would gladly take similar unfair advantages and run with them. It’s a messed up, stacked deck form of capitalism, but it’s still capitalism nonetheless.

The inquest is expected to take over a year, so come on back in 2016 for updates.

Photo credit: bcostin / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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