Trade panel says U.S. producers harmed by structural steel imports

Iron workers install steel beams during a hot summer day in New York, July 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Wednesday that domestic producers were being harmed by imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China and Mexico, keeping alive an investigation that could lead to duties on the products.

The ITC’s preliminary determination ensures that an anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigation launched by the U.S. Commerce Department last month will move forward.

U.S. lawmakers, car companies and Canada and Mexico have strongly urged the Trump administration to drop U.S. national security tariffs on steel and aluminum imports after a deal announced last year to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The fabricated structural steel under investigation is used in major building projects, including bridges, office and residential buildings, parking decks and ports.

If the Commerce Department determines the imports are being dumped in the U.S. market at less than fair value, unfairly subsidized, or both, and if the ITC affirms its finding of harm, the United States will impose duties for an initial five years.

The department launched the trade case after receiving a petition from an industry trade group.

The United States imported $658.3 million worth of fabricated structural steel from Canada in 2017, $841.7 million worth from China, and $406.6 million from Mexico.

The Commerce Department alleges there are 44 subsidy programs for Canadian fabricated structural steel, including tax programs, grant programs, loan programs, export insurance programs, and equity programs. There are also 26 subsidy programs for China and 19 subsidy programs for Mexico, according to the agency.

Last month, a Canadian steel industry group said it would strongly oppose anti-dumping duties on certain steel imports from Canada. The Canadian Institute of Steel Construction said allegations “that these products from Canada are unfairly traded and cause injury to U.S. producers of fabricated steel products are baseless.”

Writing by Tim Ahmann; Editing by David Alexander and Susan Thomas