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UNFAIRLY SUBSIDIZED AND DUMPED STEEL IMPORTS CAUSING SEVERE INJURY TO MODERN U.S. INDUSTRY, STEEL PRODUCERS TESTIFY

UNFAIRLY SUBSIDIZED AND DUMPED STEEL IMPORTS CAUSING SEVERE INJURY
 TO MODERN U.S. INDUSTRY, STEEL PRODUCERS TESTIFY
 WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Several leading American steel producers testified today that despite the successful implementation of a $23 billion modernization program over the past decade, their industry is suffering "serious and material injury" as a result of massively subsidized and dumped foreign steel in the U.S. market.
 Appearing at a conference before the U.S. International Trade Commission, the steel executives sharply criticized foreign producers for failing to stop their unfair subsidy and dumping practices, which was one of the major objectives of the recently expired voluntary export restraint agreement (VRAs) on steel. They said the continuation of unfair foreign trade practices has led to dramatic overcapacity in the world steel market and has contributed to billions in losses for U.S. producers.
 "It is not an exaggeration to say that the U.S. steel industry has been transformed," said Thomas J. Usher, president of the U.S. Steel Group unit of USX Corporation. "We are now a world-class competitor by any measure. One thing has not changed, however. The U.S. industry continues to be victimized by unfairly traded imports manufactured by foreign producers who are not subject to the same free market forces as the U.S. industry."
 These unfair foreign trade practices, Usher said, contributed to net losses for U.S. producers of more than $2.2 billion in 1991 alone and more than 200,000 jobs permanently lost since 1980. "These problems are destroying the communities where we live, and they are harming the country as a whole," he said.
 Today's conference followed the June 30 filing of 48 antidumping and 36 countervailing duty petitions against foreign steel producers from 21 countries. The I.T.C. has responsibility for determining whether dumping and subsidization have caused material injury to U.S. producers. Based on today's presentations and briefs submitted, the I.T.C. staff will make a report to the commission members, which will be followed by a preliminary I.T.C. injury determination in mid- August.
 Yesterday, the Commerce Department, which determines the existence and extent of dumping and subsidization, initiated investigations on all 84 petitions filed last month.
 The steel executives, joined by several economists and financial experts, testified today that foreign dumping and subsidy practices have significantly reduced revenues to U.S. producers and have forced them to operate at less efficient output levels. This is seriously undermining the industry's creditworthiness and is impeding its ability to make investments that are needed to remain competitive, they said.
 "Despite our massive investments in new technology and extensive cost-cutting measures -- which have made us the lowest-cost and most efficient producers in the world -- U.S. producers have had to endure near-suicidal price cutting because of unfairly traded imports," said Robert Westergren, vice president, marketing and sales, of National Steel Corporation.
 Rejecting arguments put forth by foreign producers that the American industry's problems are due primarily to the recession, D. Sheldon Arnot, executive vice president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, said, "We believe strongly that under conditions of fair trade, we would have maintained reasonable profitability through the recent economic slowdown."
 Moreover, Robert J. Grow, president of Geneva Steel, said, "Despite the U.S. industry's transformation, the steel industry is performing far worse than almost all other sectors of the economy."
 The executives added that the U.S. industry's cases are not intended to "harass" foreign producers, as some have claimed and were filed only after President Bush and Trade Ambassador Carla Hills said the U.S. trade laws should be enforced following the expiration of the steel VRAs. As Usher pointed out, "The assumption underlying the VRAs was that the domestic industry would modernize and that the unfair trade practices would stop. That modernization occurred, but the unfair trade practices have not stopped."
 Foreign subsidies totaled more than $100 billion in the past decade, he noted. In many cases, these were "survival subsidies" to money-losing foreign enterprises to which "no responsible private investor or lender would have committed any funds on any terms" according to an industry attorney who also testified.
 The steel cases were filed by 12 U.S. producers of flat-rolled carbon steel products (hot-rolled, cold-rolled, corrosion-resistant and plate), accounting for roughly 60 percent of total steel shipments in this country. The cases affect imports which totaled 6.5 million tons in 1991 valued at $2.5 billion. Total U.S. consumption of these products in 1991 was 45.5 million tons.
 Others testifying today included Charles Mattia, vice president of Lukens Steel Company; Andrew Ellwein, general manager of Inland Steel Company; Robert Buck, vice president of LTV Steel Company; and representatives of several other companies.
 -0- 7/21/92
 /CONTACT: Mark Johnson of Sawyer/Miller, 202-223-1300, for the steel executives, or Jack Morris of Inland Steel, 312-899-3768/ CO: ST: District of Columbia IN: MNG SU:


MH -- DC018 -- 1325 07/21/92 12:10 EDT
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Date:Jul 21, 1992
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