Geneva Steel is among a dozen steel mills, including some of the nation's heavyweights, that filed a petition with the International Trade Commission to curtail low-priced foreign imports.
In addition to the companies, the United Steel Workers of America and the Independent Steelworkers Union will join in the "anti-dumping" cases against Russia, Japan and Brazil."Our company and our industry have been injured by the surges of hot-rolled sheet, causing prices to fall and order books to deteriorate," Geneva President Robert J. Grow said in a statement Wednesday. "The fact that traditional integrated producers, mini-mills and labor unions have joined together in this fight against unfair trade demonstrates the severity of the problem."
Imports of carbon hot-rolled steel sheet from the three countries rose to 3.2 million tons through the first seven months of the year, taking an 18.4 percent U.S. market share. Shipments more than doubled this year and account for at least 62 percent of hot-rolled sheet imports.
"We recognize that our trading partners are faced with serious economic challenges and are experiencing hardships, but we must emphasize that the U.S. cannot be a dumping ground to which they can export their significant over-capacity," Grow said.
Geneva blames foreign "dumping" for it own financial woes. The company has laid off at least 330 workers this year and scaled back plant operations due to the depressed steel market. Only one of the mill's three blast furnaces are in operation.
Carbon hot-rolled sheet is the largest volume steel product and the backbone of the industry. The United States used 27 million tons in 1997, and consumption is up about 12 percent this year.
Nevertheless, domestic mill officials say the influx of foreign steel has forced them to cut prices as much as 20 percent.
In its petition, the steel industry alleges that hot-rolled sheet from "extremely inefficient" Russian mills was being dumped at margins ranging from 106 percent to 199 percent. Sheet from Japan, with export prices almost $125 per ton lower than three years ago, are alleged to be dumped at margins ranging from 27 percent o 65 percent. Margins in imports from Brazil range from 30 percent to 85 percent.
The International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce will make a preliminary injury decisions within 45 days and 160 days, respectively. The steel industry expects the government to impose duties to offset the dumping.
Geneva and Gulf States Steel filed successful antidumping petitions against Russia, Ukraine, China and South Africa last year. U.S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel are among the those seeking relief this year.
In related action, the Senate Steel Caucus - a group of senators from steel-producing states - introduced Wednesday a congressional resolution calling on President Clinton to address steel dumping and more aggressively enforce U.S. trade laws.Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who co-sponsored the resolution, said he believes "it is important and appropriate for our government to intervene where clear evidence exists of unfair trading practices."
He added, "The U.S. steel industry is a world-class industry with a high quality product, yet it has lost significant market share to imports.
"Deteriorating profits and prices are forcing cutbacks and reducing production schedules. These effects have had both short and long-term adverse consequences for Geneva Steel and its workers."
The resolution calls on the president to develop and give to Congress by Jan. 5 a comprehensive plan to respond to the surge of steel imports; to pursue enhanced enforcement of U.S. trade laws; establish a task force to monitor imports of steel; and push other nations to accept more fair shares of steel imports.