Reuters reported that US producers of steel rebar undercut each other on price and are not hurt by imports from Mexico and Turkey, foreign firms told the US International Trade Commission as they fought a push to slap duties on their steel.
US based producers have complained of a doubling of imports between 2010 and 2012 and launched a trade dispute that could end in import duties as high as 67% on reinforcing bar used to reinforce concrete.
Companies giving evidence in the final stage of the case said cheap, subsidized imports endanger a recovery in the US industry, which was hard hit by a collapse in construction during the recession.
But lawyers for the foreign producers said most imports were aimed at small scale projects, while US rebar was concentrated in large scale construction like roads and bridges, where US mills dominate the market and aggressively compete on price.
Market leaders Nucor Corporation, Commercial Metals Company and Gerdau Long Steel North America sold rebar cheaply to their in house operations marketing to contractors for big projects.
Mr Jay Campbell, of White & Case, a representative for the Mexican producers said that "Nucor and Gerdau are the price leaders and undersold other U.S. producers and each other. Imports did not suppress the US mills' profitability; the big three did this to themselves."
Mr Wiley Rein lawyer Alan Price, representing the US mills' Rebar Trade Action Coalition, said that unfair competition from imports cut operating margins to 3.7% in 2013. That was down from 4.3% in 2011 and 5.5% in 2012.
Mr Jim Darsey, Nucor executive vice president of bar products, said that Nucor cut prices to compete with imports, hurting the company's bottom line but imports just got cheaper and cheaper. Recovery remains elusive, in large part because of dumped and subsidized imports.
Mr Jim Kerkvliet, Gerdau Long Steel vice president of sales, said that his company had been forced to idle several mills, reduce staff at others and lay off 550 workers at one facility. Production, sales and financial performance took a significant hit. Construction was not expected to return to pre-recession levels until 2017.
(Source - www.steelguru.com)