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Economy and Business

Steel dumping hearing is set for the Senate on Wednesday
Ohio manufacturers and unions are pushing for tougher enforcement, especially against South Korea

The shale boom in Ohio and elsewhere was supposed to be good for U.S. steel manufacturing. But U.S. companies say they're being unfairly undercut.
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Cracking down on cheap, foreign imports of steel will be the focus of a Senate Finance Committee hearing this Wednesday. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Brian Bull reports, it’s all part of an ongoing campaign to reign in nations who are allegedly circumventing trade laws.

LISTEN: The argument over steel pipe

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Among those scheduled to testify is the CEO of U.S. Steel, which recently idled two plants in Texas and Pennsylvania. 

The company blames “dumping” — the influx of foreign-made steel listed at below-market prices — for cutting into the productivity and profits of domestic steel makers. U.S. Steel is also suing South Korea, which it calls one of the worst offenders among its foreign rivals. 

John Wilkinson is plant manager at the company’s Lorain plant. He says there’s only one “appropriate” outcome for the suit.

“And that is, put these trade cases against South Korea. We give U.S. Steel and all the other steel companies a fighting chance in a domestic U.S. We get back to supporting ourselves internally. We’re not asking for a handout. What we’re looking for is just a fair playing field to compete against.”

The Economic Policy Institute says collectively, U.S. steel industries lost $400 million in 2012, and $1.2 billion in 2013, with greater losses to come unless something is done. 

American steel makers want stricter enforcement of international trade laws that they say will help them stay competitive, especially during the ongoing shale boom happening across the U.S., including the Utica and Marcellus shale regions that run through Ohio.

The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to issue a ruling by mid-July.

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