By Stephen Barlas
The U.S. opened a new front on the war against steel imports with the Feb. 28 announcement that the Department of Commerce was going to investigate possible dumping and subsidization of
imported fabricated structural steel from Canada, China, and Mexico.
Any new tariffs on imports of those products would depend on a finding by the U.S. International Trade Commission that the imports in question are injuring U.S. steel manufacturers. In opening the investigation, the
Commerce Department was responding to a petition from the American
Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Full Member Subgroup, filed on Feb.
4. Commerce is opening separate new antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations.
AISC estimated the total domestic consumption of fabricated structural
steel at 4. 7 million tons, with U.S. structural steel fabricators providing 3. 4
million tons. Imports, mostly from the three countries being investigated,
make up the other 1.3 million tons. The AISC is particularly concerned at
the rapid growth of structural steel imports in recent years.
In the AD investigation, the Commerce Department will determine
whether imports of fabricated structural steel are being dumped in the
U.S. market at less than fair value. The alleged dumping margins are 30. 41
percent for Canada, 222.35 percent for China, and 30. 58 percent for Mexico.
In the CVD investigation, the Commerce Department will determine
whether the same imports are receiving unfair government subsidies. Allegations suggest that Canada enjoys 44 subsidy programs, including tax
programs, grant programs, loan programs, export insurance programs,
and equity programs. China is said to have 26 subsidy programs, including
tax programs, grant programs, debt restructuring programs, and export
subsidy programs. Mexico is alleged to have 19 subsidy programs, including
grant programs, tax programs, export programs, and loan programs. The
Commerce Department is scheduled to make its final determinations on
these cases by July 15 for the CVD investigations and Sept. 30 for the AD
investigations, but those dates may be extended.
Changes to OSHA’s Beryllium Standard Lauded
The metalworking and manufacturing communities have blessed changes
to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s beryllium stan-
dard, making it likely the agency will finalize those very soon. The National
Association of Manufacturers issued a statement saying it is “pleased that
OSHA has now proposed to clarify certain ancillary provisions to simplify
OSHA issued a new standard in 2017. It included staggered compliance
deadlines, the most recent in December 2018. That deadline greatly affect-
ed some ancillary provisions, which OSHA decided it wanted to change.
For example, the December 2018 proposed rule made changes to the defi-
nition of a “beryllium work area,” which triggers workplace requirements.
Business and labor groups have now weighed in on that proposed rule.
“OSHA’s proposed changes to the standard are supported by scientific
evidence in the record and are legally justified in accordance with OSHA’s
obligations under the OSH Act,” said Sandra Crawford, president of Mead
Metals Inc. “The proposed changes will make the beryllium standard work-
able and eliminate regulatory uncertainty.”
Even the AFL-CIO, which was instrumental in convincing OSHA to an-
nounce the new standard in 2017, is happy with the changes.
“This new proposal specific to general industry not only retains the feasible permissible exposure limit (PEL) of the original beryllium standard,
but also retains ancillary provisions necessary to reduce health risks further that the PEL alone cannot achieve,” Rebecca L. Reindel, senior safety
and health specialist, AFL-CIO, said.
Other compliance obligations under the standard do not commence
until late 2019 or 2020.
American Institute of Steel Construction, www.aisc.org
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, www.osha.gov
U.S. Department of Commerce, www.commerce.gov
U.S. International Trade Commission, www.usitc.gov
Read more from Stephen Barlas at
Commerce investigates fabricated
structural steel imports
Canada, China, and Mexico are targeted
for possible trade penalties
MANAGEMENT » AROUND WASHINGTON
Any new tariffs on imports of fabricated structural steel
products would depend on a finding by the U.S.
International Trade Commission that the imports
in question are injuring U.S. steel manufacturers.