10.31.17

SCHUMER HOLD TWO DEPT OF COMMERCE NOMS TO PROTECT UPSTATE NY ALUMINUM AND STEEL COMPANIES LIKE ALCOA IN MASSENA, NUCOR IN AUBURN AND CHEMUNG, NOVELIS IN OSWEGO, WELDED TUBE IN LACKAWANNA, KLEIN STEEL IN ROCHESTER; SENATOR SAYS ADMIN HAS STALLED ON STEEL/ALUMINUM INVESTIGATIONS CAUSING A SURGE OF IMPORTS THAT THREATEN NEW YORK PRODUCERS

Senator Says Sec. 232 Investigations Are Needed To Ensure That U.S. Steel And Aluminum Industries, Including Those In NY Can Meet Our Defense And Critical Infrastructure Needs

Schumer Says Dept. Of Commerce Has Delayed Action On Sec. 232 Steel And Aluminum Investigations Has Caused A Surge In Steel Imports Undermining American Steel Producers

Schumer To Admin: Keep Your Promises To Protect Upstate NY’s Aluminum & Steel Industry 

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that he will hold two Department of Commerce nominees, Gil Kaplan for Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade and Nazakhtar Nikakhtar for Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Analysis. Schumer’s announcement comes after his frustration with the Administration’s failure to resolve the ongoing investigations into the impact of steel and aluminum imports on national security formally known as “Sec. 232 investigations.” Senator Schumer and eight other Senate Democrats wrote a letter to President Trump and Secretary Ross regarding them urging them to complete these investigations as soon as possible. Despite statements by the President and administration officials indicating the imminent conclusion of these investigations, they have failed to both complete it and present its findings to the president. These statements by the President and administration officials caused a surge in imports – and a subsequent closure of a Pennsylvania factory -- as foreign producers imported before any import restrictions are put into place. Total finished steel imports have sustained 27 percent of U.S. market share in September. Producers in certain industries have faced a massive increase in imports, such as oil country pipe and tube, which Welded Tube in Lackawanna produces, which is up 254 percent in September compared to last year. This surge in steel imports undermines Nucor, Welded Tube, and their workers. Schumer and the eight Senate Democrats also urged the President and Secretary Ross to securing meaningful concessions from China in their upcoming visit.

“Upstate New York companies like Alcoa and Nucor want to provide high-quality aluminum and steel to businesses in and around the country, but overproduction from China and other countries is threatening Upstate New York’s metal industry by making it almost impossible for companies that play by the rules to compete,” said Senator Schumer. “While the administration once preached efforts to crack down on China, it now appears they were just reading us a fairy tale of promises, which actually does not live up to a real crackdown on foreign predatory trade practices. For this reason, I will be placing a hold on the Senate floor on two top pending Commerce Department nominees – Gil Kaplan for Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade and Nazakhtar Nikakhtar for Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Industry and Analysis – until the Commerce Department provides a satisfactory and meaningful response on the progress critical investigations that will help protect our Upstate steel and aluminum companies.”

Schumer explained that China and other foreign governments continue to provide massive subsidies to their steel and aluminum sectors in order to boost their economic growth. This foreign steel and aluminum is exported to the United States, often at artificially cheap prices, which undercuts United States producers like Alcoa and Nucor and the companies that use US-produced raw steel like Klein Steel. The Sec. 232 investigations were initiated to ensure that these imports do not threaten the ability of U.S. steel and aluminum industries to meet our defense and critical infrastructure needs. These investigations, when concluded, will provide a report to the President on possible trade action.  

Schumer has long pressed previous administrations to secure commitments from China to level the playing field for steel and aluminum workers in New York. Schumer supported the “Level the Playing Field Act” which strengthened U.S. antidumping laws and has advocated for the vigorous enforcement of U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws. These efforts have helped the U.S. steel and aluminum industries put in place more duties on artificially cheap steel and aluminum imports. However, subsidized steel and aluminum from China and other countries is being rerouted through third countries in Asia and exported to the U.S. without being assessed duties. The 232 investigations could result in broad-based action to curb steel and aluminum imports from many countries if imports are found to threaten national security. As a result, Schumer is urging that, in addition to swift action on the 232 investigations, the administration take actions to safeguard Upstate New York’s aluminum and steel industries’ long-term competitiveness by prioritizing concessions to eliminate steel and aluminum subsides from China, defending U.S. trade enforcement laws at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and challenging China’s aluminum subsides at the WTO.

A copy of the Senate Democrats’ letter to President Trump and Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears below:

Dear President Trump and Secretary Ross:

We write on behalf of our constituents employed by the aluminum and steel industries in our states. We are deeply concerned that our aluminum and steel workers are suffering due to the Administration’s inaction on the Sec. 232 investigations of steel and aluminum imports and the recent comments by Secretary Ross indicating that the administration is delaying action because the investigations may “interfere with the legislative agenda” concerning tax reform. Previous statements by the President and administration officials indicating the imminent conclusion of these investigations has caused a surge in imports. This surge, manufactured by the administration’s delays, has resulted in the closure of a factory and has put additional American jobs at risk. We urge you to complete these investigations as soon as possible, regardless of the legislative process on tax reform.

The Sec. 232 investigations were initiated to ensure that imports do not threaten the ability of U.S. steel and aluminum industries to meet our defense and critical infrastructure needs. However, frequent announcements from the President and administration officials setting deadlines on the completion of the Sec. 232 reports has caused a surge in steel imports as foreign producers have sought to import before the implementation of foreseen import restrictions. In May of this year, Secretary Ross mentioned at a public hearing that he hoped to submit the steel Sec. 232 report to the President by the end of June. The President and Secretary Ross continued to make such comments, setting deadlines in the following months. As a direct result of these reported deadlines, in July, steel imports rose 22 percent from the same period a year ago to capture 28 percent of the U.S. market. Total finished steel imports have sustained 27 percent of U.S. market share in September. Producers in certain industries have faced a massive increase in imports, such as oil country pipe and tube, which is up 254 percent in September compared to last year.

We understand that the Administration is continuing its efforts to negotiate an agreement with China and other countries to reduce their excess steel and aluminum capacity. As with the Sec. 232 investigations, political concerns surrounding tax reform should not weigh on this important goal, as the two policy goals are not linked to one another. Global overcapacity, resulting from massive government subsidies, remains the fundamental threat to the long-term competitiveness of our steel and aluminum industries and their ability to meet our defense and critical infrastructure needs.

Past failed negotiations with China and other nations indicate a new strategy is needed. The U.S. must show that it is willing to employ meaningful broad-based trade action to ensure that our steel and aluminum industries remain competitive in the face of sustained predatory trade practices. The President’s upcoming visit to China and the G-20 forum in November will provide opportunities for securing meaningful concessions from China and other countries to reduce their excess steel and aluminum capacity. We urge you to conclude both Sec. 232 investigations and present the findings to the President before the President’s visit to China.

Thousands of steel and aluminum workers in our states support their families, their communities, and our national security infrastructure. They deserve to compete on a level playing field. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

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