U.S. Calls for 256% Tariff on Imports of Steel From China

Commerce Dept.: Chinese Steel to Be Taxed at 256 Percent
  • Imports from South Korea, India and Italy also face tariffs
  • Taiwan found not to have dumped steel in U.S. markets

Corrosion-resistant steel imports from China were sold at unfairly low prices and will be taxed at 256 percent, according to a preliminary finding of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

QuickTake Iron Ore Wars

Imports from India, South Korea and Italy will be taxed at lower rates, the agency said Tuesday in a statement. Imports from Taiwan and Italy’s Marcegaglia SpA will not face anti-dumping tariffs. The government found dumping margins of 3.25 percent for most South Korean steel imports, with Hyundai Steel Co.’s shipments subject to duties of 3.5 percent. Imports from Italian companies excluding Marcegaglia will be taxed at 3.1 percent. Indian imports are subject to duties from 6.6 percent to 6.9 percent.

“We’re concerned that the dumping that’s occurring is at higher levels than these determinations reflect,” Tim Brightbill, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP, a law firm representing U.S. steelmaker Nucor Corp., said Tuesday in an interview. “We have serious concerns that these preliminary duties are not enough at a time when unfairly priced imports continue to surge into the U.S. market at unprecedented rates.”

U.S. producers including Nucor, U.S. Steel Corp. and Steel Dynamics Inc. filed cases in June alleging that some products from China, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan had been dumped in the U.S., harming domestic companies. In November, the government found that all those countries, except Taiwan, subsidized their domestic production by as much as 236 percent of its price.

Import Barrier

Tuesday’s tariffs, combined with countervailing duties as high as 236 percent announced on Nov. 3, create a barrier to imports of these steel products from China, said Caitlin Webber, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Washington.

“A 500 percent duty is obviously prohibitive,” Webber said in an interview. “The lower ones are much less prohibitive and would probably have a lower impact on imports.”

U.S. steelmakers have filed three sets of cases against imports of hot-rolled, cold-rolled and corrosion-resistant steel after deliveries from abroad surged. The price of hot-rolled steel coil, the benchmark product, is down about 40 percent this year, with domestic mills idling as much as 38 percent of capacity after imports climbed by 38 percent in 2014.

Imports of all steel products through October rose 3.9 percent in 2015. The Commerce Department estimated that the value of imports of anti-corrosive steel -- coils of the metal which have been coated with zinc or other treatments to prevent rust -- from the target countries to be $2.16 billion.

Calls to the spokesman’s office at China’s Ministry of Commerce in Beijing weren’t answered. An official who answered a call to the China Iron & Steel Association couldn’t immediately comment.

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