Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Dumping Accusation Leveled at China by Top Electrical Steelmaker

  • ‘Whac-a-mole’ China trade response needs overhaul, AK CEO says
  • Newport optimistic Trump infrastructure projects will proceed

There’s a type of Chinese steel dumping going on that not even the Trump administration is talking about, according to Ohio-based AK Steel Holding Corp. 

The only North American producer of steel used for electric-grid applications is working on ways to stop China dumping its excess electrical-steel capacity, AK Chief Executive Officer Roger Newport said in a telephone interview Friday. The accusations come as the U.S. Department of Commerce undertakes a Section 232 investigation into whether steel imports threaten national security.

“They’re shipping it everywhere so now all countries are trying to bring in electrical steel, whether it’s Korea, Japan, China, you name it,” Newport said. “They got it because China’s been infiltrating the markets everywhere. It’s just like in the carbon-steel cases, it’s a whac-a-mole.”

The issue dates back to 2008-2009 when China brought a trade case against AK Steel and Allegheny Technologies Inc., blocking the two companies from shipping electrical steel to China, Newport said. The World Trade Organization eventually ruled the trade case as illegal, but not before China had developed domestic capacity, he said.

AK Steel has 300,000-plus tons of electrical-steel capacity. 

China has defended its growing presence in overseas steel markets, with Premier Li Keqiang saying overcapacity isn’t the fault of one single country. The nation will use the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism to protect its interests, the Commerce Ministry has said.

Infrastructure Optimism

Newport still expects the Trump administration to be able to push through much-needed infrastructure projects despite opposition from some members of Congress concerned by overspending.

Turning to declining U.S. passenger-car sales, Newport said light trucks, SUVs and so-called crossover vehicles make up 75 percent of AK’s automotive business, helping shield it from the slowdown.

“That’s probably the stronger part of the market, and also aligns well where we’re going with our products in the future,” he said.

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