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SPECIALTY STEEL IMPORTS SOAR IN 1992

 WASHINGTON, March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- High-value specialty steel imports soared in the year 1992 according to Department of Commerce data released today by the Specialty Steel Industry of the United States (SSIUS).
 Comparing specialty steel imports during 1992 with 1991, the increases ranged up to 61 percent depending on product line. Increases were recorded in all products as tabulated below:
 Imports Imports
 (tons) (tons) Percent
 Product 1991 1992 Increase
 Stainless steel sheet
 & strip 168,732 206,367 22
 Stainless steel plate 21,528 34,633 61
 Stainless steel bar 44,941 46,914 4
 Stainless steel rod 26,235 41,886 60
 Stainless steel wire 16,420 19,056 16
 Total 277,856 348,856 26
 Tool steel 31,474 34,595 10
 Electrical steel 81,630 81,857 0.3
 "Most of the staggering growth in specialty steel imports during 1992 came after the end of the Voluntary Restrain Agreements (VRAs) on March 31," Robert E. Heaton, chairman of the board of directors, SSIUS, said.
 Heaton noted that 1992 stainless steel imports soared by 26 percent, a far greater rate than the 11 percent growth of the domestic market. Import penetration of the market increased to 21 percent vs. 19 percent in 1991. "This means lost American jobs," he said.
 "The level and speed of the import growth since the termination of the VRA program is unprecedented in a number of product categories and confirms our worst fears that foreign steel producers, with their governments standing behind them, are targeting the specialty segment of the steel market in the United States, endangering this high technology manufacturing industry and its skilled work force. As in the past, much of the import growth has been encouraged and facilitated by dumping and foreign government subsidization," Heaton said today in a presentation to the Congressional Steel Caucus in Washington.
 Heaton said: "The Specialty Steel Industry of the United States will continue to be aggressive in utilizing the trade laws to challenge the unfair import competition threatening our domestic markets. In the last year, with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), we have already brought and won antidumping cases against Korea and Taiwan on stainless steel pipe products, and we have successfully initiated and completed the initial injury phase of the antidumping cases on stainless wire rod from India, Brazil and France. Also, we have recently filed an antidumping case on stainless steel pipe from Malaysia, and a number of other cases are also under active consideration."
 On the international trade negotiating front, the specialty steel industry supports the continuing effort to find a multilateral solution to the problem of foreign government subsidization. However, the industry is skeptical about any multilateral agreement that will grandfather past subsidy programs, or which will provide waivers so broad that the fundamental purpose of the agreement will be undermined. "We are also deeply concerned about the attempt by foreign producers to utilize the Multilateral Steel Agreement (MSA) process and the GATT negotiations to weaken U.S. trade laws. The trade laws, and the remedies that have flowed from their enforcement, have been the most effective lines of defense against the unfair trade practices that have plagued our domestic markets. The predisposition on the part of our trading partners to use the multilateral negotiation process to weaken our trade laws is a recurring theme." Heaton urged Congress to do everything possible to resist this effort.
 With foreign steel producers facing substantial dumping and countervailing duties as a result of the trade cases now before the Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission, SSIUS expects a number of proposals to be floated which may embody "political solutions" to the steel trade problem. They may include quotas, VRAs, regional agreements, a multilateral steel agreement or some government-enforced price undertaking. Heaton said: "For any program to be effective, it must cover all primary steel mill products. The exclusion of some steel mill products from a comprehensive import program would almost certainly lead to increased imports and a higher level of injury to U.S. firms producing products not covered by the program. Foreign producers have repeatedly demonstrated the capacity to shift production from steel products covered by import programs to uncovered, in order to recapture some of the lost revenues. The specialty steel industry has been the most vulnerable segment of the steel industry to this phenomenon, because our higher value products create an added incentive for foreign producers to export these products.
 "We are an industry that is facing a real threat. But, we are also an industry that has done all of the right things to meet that threat. We are a competitive, technologically advanced manufacturing industry that has developed a high-skilled, well-paid work force -- the type of work force that has been central to the economic aspirations of the current and previous administrations," Heaton said.
 The Specialty Steel Industry of the United States is a Washington-based trade association representing U.S. producers of stainless and alloy tool steels, electrical steels, and other high technology metals. The industry employs approximately 35,000 men and women and has annual shipments of about $6 billion.
 -0- 3/2/93
 /CONTACT: Bert Delano, 412-394-2813, or Meg Mullery, 202-342-8439, both for the Specialty Steel Industry of the United States/


CO: Specialty Steel Industry of the United States ST: District of Columbia IN: MNG SU:

TW-KD -- DC032 -- 2027 03/02/93 14:20 EST
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Date:Mar 2, 1993
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