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BARNETTE EXPRESSES STEEL INDUSTRY CONCERNS TO CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS

 WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Speaking for the American Iron and Steel Institute, the head of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation (NYSE: BS) today provided the Congressional Steel Caucus with an overview of steel industry positions on trade, health care, taxation and other public policy issues.
 Curtis H. Barnette, chairman and chief executive officer, pointed out that foreign unfair trade practices have caused serious injury to U.S. steel producers.
 "For our part," Barnette said, "we'll continue to urge that U.S. dumping and subsidy laws be enforced to the letter. We'll continue to support ongoing efforts to achieve a comprehensive, effective and enforceable Multilateral Steel Agreement that would open foreign markets and end subsidies but leave our trade laws fully intact. And we'll continue to work with the caucus and other industries to ensure that the trade law weakening provisions of the GATT Uruguay Round's Dunkel Draft' are totally rejected."
 He asked for caucus support in opposing the campaign by foreign steel industries and governments to derail U.S. steel producers' cases against subsidy and dumping violations rather than continuing them to conclusion.
 "The way to ensure that unfair trade distortions are removed is to see that dumped or subsidized steel pays appropriate duties," Barnette said.
 He said that AISI's domestic member companies support actions to reduce the U.S.-Japan trade imbalance.
 He noted that American steel companies that provide health care benefits to all their active and retired employees have seen their health care costs more than triple since 1980. As a result, they pay much more than foreign steel producers, putting them at a severe competitive disadvantage.
 "For some companies," said Barnette, "especially those where the ratio of retirees to active workers is as high as six-to-one, the costs are much higher -- over $7 per man-hour worked. For these companies, health care costs can approach between 15 and 20 percent of total employment costs."
 AISI supports: (1) establishing national expenditure targets and all-payer rate mechanisms to control cost; (2) eliminating massive cost shifting by the federal government; (3) initiating medical malpractice reform; and (4) developing medical practice protocols to improve the quality of care.
 Barnette said that while AISI supports President Clinton's broad economic plan, it is concerned about the effect on the domestic steel industry's competitiveness of the proposed BTU tax on energy.
 "Having lost over $3 billion in the past two years, and with energy representing a substantial portion of steel manufacturing costs, our industry could face direct annual cost increases of as much as several hundred million dollars -- money urgently needed for modernization and to deal with our legacy health care and pension costs," Barnette said.
 On the subject of taxation, Barnette said, "It's time to begin work on replacing our existing outdated, anti-competitive business tax system with a simple, GATT-legal and border-adjustable tax on business activities."
 He said that "it would enhance U.S. competitiveness at home and abroad while finally calling upon foreign producers to make an appropriate contribution for the benefits they derive from participation in the U.S. market."
 Barnette also spoke of the industry's pension situation and environmental control efforts, and commented on the harmful impact of excessive government regulation on the international competitiveness of American manufacturers.
 -0- 3/2/93
 /CONTACT: Jim Hughes of the American Iron and Steel Institute, 202-452-7122/
 (BS)


CO: American Iron and Steel Institute; Bethlehem Steel Corporation ST: District of Columbia IN: MNG SU:

DC -- DC006 -- 1752 03/02/93 08:05 EST
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Date:Mar 2, 1993
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