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Steel | Trade Contracting

March 14, 2005

Government will collect data

Steel import monitoring program to be extended by Commerce Dept.

WASHINGTON

Responding to pleas from legislators and the steel industry, the U.S. Commerce Department announced last week that it will extend a program that monitors how much foreign steel is imported into the United States.

The Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis System was established in 2003 as part of U.S. President George W. Bush’s program that imposed tariffs on low-priced steel imports that at the time were flooding the market and contributing to the industry’s financial woes.

The tariffs, which helped the U.S. industry rebound, were ended last year, but Bush left the steel monitoring program in place. It was to expire March 20.

“This is very good news,’’ Representative Bob Ney (R-Ohio) said. “Import monitoring in the steel sector is absolutely critical if the domestic industry is to avoid another devastating surge of unfairly traded imports.’’

Bill Klinefelter, legislative director for the United Steelworkers of America union, said last week’s decision to continue the program reflects continued concern about the possibility of a sudden surge of imported steel.

“The more that China dominates the global steel markets, with the possibility of severe fluctuations, the more the U.S. has to be on its guard in its efforts to preserve American steel,’’ Klinefelter said.

A Commerce Department notice said the program would be continued until March 2009 and expanded to include all basic steel mill products, including wire rod, heavy structural beams, oil country tubular goods, and stainless steel sheet and strip. Previously, the program only included steel products named in the 2003 tariffs.

The program requires the government to collect data including the steel product being imported, its value, the volume of the order and its port of entry.

The industry says the data is valuable for studying trends so they can prevent another hit to the industry.

The Associated Press

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