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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Says Japan Guilty of Dumping Hot-Rolled Steel

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Commerce Department said Japan is dumping hot-rolled steel in the U.S. market and said importers could be liable to pay duties ranging from 17.86 percent to 67.14 percent on the products.

Japanese steelmakers Friday lashed back, saying the ruling was unacceptable and threatened to take the dispute to U.S. trade court.

The department's decision Thursday means importers of hot-rolled steel, a basic industry product, from Japan must pay cash or post bonds to cover the duties on the imports, pending the outcome of a separate ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The ITC has to decide whether the imports are injuring the domestic industry and is expected to make its final decision in the case in early June.

The hot-rolled steel case was one of a number of steel anti-dumping cases brought by the U.S. industry in response to a flood of cheap imports last year, which they said was hurting their bottom line and forcing job cuts.

Since last September, the industry and the United Steel Workers of America have been engaged in a campaign to raise public awareness about the import surge to pressure the White House and Congress to respond.

The House of Representatives has passed a bill that would set import quotas on steel even though that would violate international trade rules. The Senate has not acted on the bill, but lawmakers there may consider alternative legislation that would help the U.S. industry deal with import surges.

In response to the pressure, the Commerce Department expedited the hot-rolled steel case. As a result, duties on Japanese imports, with the exception of those from two companies, will be retroactive from November 1998 if the decision is upheld by the ITC, the department said.

Nippon Steel Corp. said Friday in a statement: "Unfairly high dumping margin rates were approved in the latest Commerce Department decision. We cannot help but believe the decision was taken without considering all of the data we handed over."

Nippon Steel, Japan's biggest steelmaker, said it would study the decision and weigh its options.

The duties would only become final if the ITC finds that the U.S. industry is being harmed by the imports and orders their imposition.

The hot-rolled case also involved a complaint against Russia and Brazil. The Commerce Department said it would make a final decision on Russia by early June and on Brazil by early July.

The United States and Russia have reached tentative agreement to dramatically curb steel imports from that economically struggling country.