Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

October 14, 2007

US Steel Makers Keep Tariffs

by Kevin Boyd

The steel makers were successful in persuading the International Trade Commission to keep steel tariffs:

In a victory for U.S. steel makers, the federal government agreed Wednesday to continue tariffs on imports of certain steel products from China, India and four other nations.

General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. Chrysler and other steel consumers had opposed the tariff extension. But ending the tariffs would have increased steel imports, harming U.S. steel makers, said Alan Price, a lawyer for Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp.

“China has a staggering amount of excess (steel production) capacity,” he said.

The U.S. International Trade Commission extended the tariffs on so-called hot-rolled steel from Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Ukraine, in addition to China and India but eliminated them for Argentina, Kazakhstan, Romania and South Africa.

About 60 million tons of hot-rolled steel, used to make autos, household appliances and many other goods, is consumed annually in the U.S., Price said.

Tariffs were first imposed in 2001 and vary depending on the country, but are as high as 90 percent for China. The duties were imposed to counteract what the U.S. and other nations call unfair trade practices, such as dumping or selling a product below production costs.

This is bad for many reasons:

1) Competition from overseas gives American steel makers an incentive to modernize and come into the 21st century. The tariffs give the steel makers no incentives to modernize and upgrade their mills.

2) The price of manufactured goods will continue to remain high, therefore continuing the exodus of manufacturing and the jobs that come with it from the United States.

3) This will harm relations with allies and potential allies like India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Ukraine.

Only free trade will save the steel making and manufacturing sectors of the American economy.

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