problems with U.S. trade policyparticularly when it comes
to defining "injury"are resulting in an uneven playing
field in the battle against imports, steelmakers said during
the Association for Iron and Steel Technologys AISTech
2013 conference in Pittsburgh.
"There has been little to no
action in Washington as to what to do with the abundance of
pipe coming into this country. Our laws are set so that
its such a long period of time to prove harm. Once you
prove harm, it might be two years based on the way U.S. laws
work," said Michael Rehwinkel, chief executive officer of
Chicago-based Evraz Inc. North America.
"Try to tell a steelmaker
thats unemployed that hes not harmed right now. We
need to have a very personalized conversation about this,"
Steelmakers have long argued
that existing trade laws are causing an unfair disadvantage for
domestic producers because filing trade cases under the current
system is costly and often ineffective. Additionally, the time
needed to prove injury and the long waiting periods in between
are hampering steel producers ability to compete fairly,
"You cant rely on everyone
helping you. At the end of the day, you need to produce a
competitive product. Our trade laws are out of step with
todays reality," said Andrew Harshaw, executive vice
president of operations at ArcelorMittal USA LLC. "When we had
a seven-year business cycle peak to peak, maybe you can wait
the two years (to see the results of a trade action). But when
your business cycle is seven months ... this is a serious issue
for our industry. Youre not going to invest capital when
you dont get a solid return on it."
However, Anand Sen, vice
president of India-based Tata Steel Ltd., was quick to point
out that not all imports are negative.
"I would urge the North American
steel industry not to paint all imports with the same brush.
There are some (imports) that necessarily are unfair imports.
But the industry needs to wake up to the fact that there are
other people who are able to do it (make steel) better," he
Sen also challenged the U.S.
steel industry to think more globally.
"Why doesnt the U.S. think
of exporting? If your capacity utilization is low ... why not
forgo certain profit and transaction levels and export? The
industry will probably be better off, too," he added.