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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Steel Holds Rally On Imports

WASHINGTON -- Steelworkers rallied in the U.S. capital in hopes of persuading President Bill Clinton's administration to get tougher on cheap steel imports.

A few thousand mill workers and supporters, blaring horns and carrying "Stand Up For Steel'' signs, closed Pennsylvania Avenue's westbound lanes for an hour Wednesday with a march from the Capitol to the White House.

Their chief complaint: Imports are coming in at prices so low that domestic producers cannot compete and have had to lay off at least 10,000 steelworkers. The industry wants an administration review that could lead to quotas and broad tariffs on foreign steel.

"I have four children at home. Unemployment doesn't make it for me,'' said Dan Stewart of Weirton, West Virginia, a 22-year employee at Weirton Steel Corp., which recently laid off 858 workers.

The company's management and workers helped organize Wednesday's rally.

Clinton was in Buffalo, New York, at the time to promote initiatives he outlined Tuesday night in his State of the Union address. But Representative Bob Ney and a union leader were able to hold an unscheduled meeting with a top White House aide.

At a rally outside the Capitol, members of Congress, steel industry executives and union leaders blamed Clinton for focusing too much on the world economy.

At a news conference, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said the United States would waste no time filing a case against Japan's rising steel imports if they are not decisively lower in December's yet-unannounced trade figures.

Last week, Barshefsky and Commerce Secretary William Daley said the United States would file a government trade complaint against Japan if its steel exports didn't drop fast

Meanwhile, Japan's finance chief said Wednesday that he was worried Washington was getting increasingly antagonistic toward Japan because of the large volume of Japanese steel exports.

"Steel is something about which we need to be extremely careful,'' Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa told reporters.

Miyazawa said Senator Jay Rockefeller briefed him on the situation of the U.S. steel industry, and Miyazawa said the volume of Japanese steel exports to the United States was bigger than he expected.

Japanese steel imports to the United States surged 400 percent last year.