ary Steel Dumping Margins NEW YORK, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- "The Commerce Department's announcement does not tell the real story of Japanese steel exports to the U.S.," Fujio Ono, President, NKK America Inc. and Chairman of the Japan Steel Information Center, stated today in response to the U.S. Commerce Department's release of preliminary margin calculations on imports of hot-rolled steel. "Japan's 1998 steel exports were the result of market conditions, and the market, not government-imposed restrictions, should dictate future U.S.-Japan steel trade. "The claims about the dire situation of the U.S. industry, the role of imports and the supposed need for import restrictions are unjustified, ill-considered and counterproductive. As this case moves to the independent U.S. International Trade Commission, we look forward to an objective review of the U.S. steel market and industry that reaches the same conclusions." Mr. Ono emphasized the key role of the U.S. steel industry itself in the 1998 import situation. "During the first half of 1998, demand for steel sheet was at a record high level and U.S. steelmakers were operating at maximum capacity. U.S. steel mills dramatically increased their shipments of higher value-added products like cold-rolled or corrosion-resistant steel. They created a supply cap for hot-rolled steel. "U.S. steel mills and U.S. consumers turned to Japan and other countries to fill that gap, ordering millions of tons of foreign steel. U.S. domestic demand created this situation. Analysts estimate that American steel mills bought as much as 25 percent of 1998 U.S. steel imports. "U.S. steel mills and other consumers kept ordering foreign steel into last summer in anticipation of a record 1998 and more of the same in 1999. That steel took four to six months to arrive in the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. demand for steel fell late last summer because of the General Motors strike, lower oil prices which reduced demand for tubular steel, and excess inventories. Once demand fell, new orders of Japanese steel also declined quickly and dramatically, well before dumping cases were filed on September 30. Steel already ordered arrived after the market weakened and continued to arrive for a few months. Recent data confirm this." Mr. Ono said Japanese exports to the U.S. fell month by month since September, reflecting a sharp drop off in orders in the third quarter. This began to show up in December U.S. import numbers for Japan, which were down 47 percent from November and hot-rolled steel imports were down even more. This reflects the fact that most imports "still in the pipeline" had arrived by December. "As Japan's steel companies predicted months ago, market forces are working to lower imports without government intervention," Mr. Ono concluded. SOURCE Japan Steel Information Center -0- 02/12/99 /CONTACT: C. Butler of Japan Steel Information Center, 212-687-2481/ CO: Japan Steel Information Center ST: New York, Japan IN: MNG SU: ECO -0- Feb/12/1999 14:22 EOS (PRN) Feb/12/99 14:22 86 â -0- (PRN) Feb/12/1999 14:37
JAPANESE STEEL INDUSTRY CRITICAL OF U.S. ANNOUNCEMENT OF PRELIMI
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