Senators defend penalties on Korean pipe imports

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Senators defend penalties on Korean pipe imports

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators yesterday defended penalties on steel imports from Korea and eight other nations as foreign suppliers sought to stave off the tariffs.

Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Robert Casey and Republican Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania testified today to the U.S. International Trade Commission that the duties will protect American jobs and companies from unfairly priced imports of the goods used in oil and gas drilling.

“Make a final determination as quickly as you can,” Brown told a packed hearing room in Washington.

“Declines in steel will reverberate throughout our economy,” hurting industries including autos and energy, he said.

U.S. Steel and the United Auto Workers union told the commission they’ve been hurt by imports of the pipes, valued at $1.54 billion last year, according to the Commerce Department. The department on July 11 set penalty duties after determining the products were dumped, or sold at unfairly low prices.

Levies won’t become final until the independent panel determines whether U.S. producers are being harmed. Decisions are to be made by late September.

The department examined imports from India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam. The U.S. industry said imports from Korea are particularly harmful.

Korea has vowed to challenge the U.S. duties at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization.

“This is the strangest injury case I’ve ever seen,” Donald Cameron, a lawyer with Morris, Manning & Martin, who represents Korean producers, told the panel.

Lower profit at U.S. companies aren’t tied to imports, he said.

“Prices declined and profits declined during 2013 because domestic producers ramped up production at the same time that raw material prices fell,” Cameron said. Bloomberg

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