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Export-based Dura-Bond petition prompts feds to investigate 'dumped' steel imports

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, 3:39 p.m.
Dura-Bond Industries president Jason Norris says protective trade practices are necessary for domestic pipe producers to flourish.
Jared Wickerham/For The Tribune-Review
Dura-Bond Industries president Jason Norris says protective trade practices are necessary for domestic pipe producers to flourish.

A small group of U.S. steel pipe producers, including a company in Export, has managed to nudge the Trump administration on the issue of foreign steel imports.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that his department is initiating an investigation into whether six countries, including Canada, are “dumping” steel pipe in the United States.

The department defines dumping as when a foreign company sells a product in the United States at less than its fair value.

The department also is launching a countervailing duty investigation, which will determine if producers are receiving unfair subsidies from foreign governments.

Such investigations are meant to give domestic producers, such as the Export-based Dura-Bond Industries , the “opportunity to compete on a level playing field,” the department said.

“When initiating a trade investigation, the Department of Commerce begins an open and transparent process that allows American companies and workers to gain relief from the market-distorting effects of injurious dumping and subsidization of imports,” Ross said in a statement.

Dura-Bond and several other companies sent President Trump a letter in September asking him to impose tariffs and take actions to end the glut of foreign steel.

The letter asked for the administration to take action under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which authorizes the commerce secretary to investigate the impact that imports are having on national security.

The 2017 letter from the American Line Pipe Producers Association singled out China.

“Chinese producers are increasingly shipping greater volumes of dumped and subsidized steel to other countries for production of large diameter line pipe that can then be shipped to the U.S. market at lesser duty rates or, in many cases, duty free,” the letter said.

Consequently, Dura-Bond and other coalition members have seen their market share decline, along with production, revenue and employment levels, the letter said.

“As an industry, we are operating at only about 30 percent capacity. This situation is not sustainable,” the letter said.

Dura-Bond is named as one of five petitioners in the Commerce Department action, along with the American Cast Iron Pipe Co. of Birmingham, Ala., the Berg Steel Pipe Corp. of Panama City, Fla., Skyline Steel in Parsippany, N.J., and the Stupp Corp. of Baton Rouge, La.

With its corporate headquarters in Export, Dura-Bond operates steel pipe manufacturing and coating facilities in Steelton, Duquesne and McKeesport — mostly for the oil and gas industry. The company laid off about 40 percent of its Steelton workforce late last year.

Company president Jason Norris could not be reached for comment. In September, he told the Tribune-Review that protective trade practices are necessary in order for domestic pipe producers to flourish.

“We are not asking to stop all imports,” Norris said. “We are only asking for relief for unfairly traded imports so our company and workers have a chance.”

The countries targeted by the Commerce Department are Canada, China, Greece, India, South Korea and Turkey.

Dura-Bond filed the petition this year and had a preliminary hearing before the U.S. International Trade Commission last week.

The next step is for the ITC to make a preliminary injury determination by March 5. The Commerce Department is scheduled to make its own determinations by April 17 and July 2.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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