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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. to Step Up Steel Dumping Probe

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Commerce Department will expedite anti-dumping cases filed by American steelmakers and workers against Russia, Japan and Brazil and apply any duties that might be imposed in the cases retroactively, Commerce Secretary William Daley told members of Congress.

Representative Ralph Regula told members of the congressional steel caucus in a letter Wednesday that Daley told him the Commerce Department made a rare "critical circumstances determination" in the cases filed Sept. 30 by 12 U.S. producers and the United Steelworkers of America union.

They charged that the three countries were selling hot-rolled steel in the U.S. market at less than fair value. They also accused Brazil of subsidizing the imports.

Hot-rolled steel is a basic commodity used in a wide variety of manufactured goods including building products and appliances.

The critical circumstances determination means that the department could put importers on notice in mid-November that they could be liable for anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties in the subsidy case as of that date, pending the final outcome of the case sometime late next year.

Normally, any anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed in the case would become effective sometime next spring after the U.S. International Trade Commission makes a preliminary determination over whether the U.S. industry is threatened with injury and the Commerce Department makes a preliminary decision that dumping is actually taking place.

Any duties would be held in escrow pending a final decision in the case.

Both the trade commission and the Commerce Department have to make final determinations and the whole process takes about a year. The steel industry was worried that importers would take advantage of the lag and rush to bring in cheap imports before the date the duties would take effect. It asked the Commerce Department to impose any duties retroactively.

Regula also said the department promised to speed up its consideration of the case and make a preliminary decision in 140 days rather than 160 days.

Meanwhile, Mexico's two largest steel companies asked the Mexican Department of Commerce on Wednesday to apply punitive tariffs against hot-rolled steel from Russia and Ukraine.

Altos Hornos de Mexico SA and Hylsamex SA said they have jointly filed a dumping complaint, claiming Russian and Ukrainian steelmakers are flooding the country with hot-rolled steel at prices below the cost of production.

The two companies said in a news release that during the first half of 1998, imports of hot-rolled steel from Russia and Ukraine increased 404 percent compared with the year-earlier period.

Hylsamex and Altos Hornos said hot-rolled steel from the Ukraine and Russia is priced in Mexico around 30 percent lower than the same product from other nations.

The Mexican steelmakers said the dumping margins were 23 percent to 45 percent for the steel from Russia and between 50 percent and 138 percent from Ukrainian exporters.

Altos Hornos and Hylsamex called on the Department of Commerce to impose "definitive'' tariffs against steel from those countries.