The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in June imposed hefty countervailing duties ranging from around 30% to more than 600% on Chinese exports of standard and structural steel pipe. The ITC decision marks the first time that a CVD, or anti-subsidy order, has been imposed on a steel product from China, and the first time that a CVD case on China has resulted in a CVD since the Commerce Dept. (DOC) began to initiate CVD investigations of Chinese imports in October 2006.

The product covered by these investigations is circular welded carbon-quality steel pipe with an outside diameter of between 0.372 and 16 inches. Chinese exports to the U.S. skyrocketed from 10,000 tons in 2002 to 750,000 tons in 2007 - a 6,900% increase.  Approximately 25% of the total workforce employed in this segment of the domestic pipe industry have lost their jobs since 2002, when the import surge began.

The trade action was filed in June 2007 on parallel tracks before the ITC and the DOC by the Ad Hoc Coalition for Fair Pipe Imports From China, along with the United Steelworkers union. The Ad Hoc Coalition includes Allied Tube & Conduit, IPSCO Tubulars, Northwest Pipe Co., Sharon Tube Co., Western Tube & Conduit and Wheatland Tube.

Barry Zekelman, president and CEO of John Maneely Co. (parent company of Wheatland Tube and Sharon Tube), said, “The Department of Commerce decision confirms what we have been experiencing in the marketplace as a result of Chinese unfair trade practices.  Large government subsidies have allowed Chinese producers to dump in our market.  This resulted in reduced profitability and forced us to shut down capacity and lay off workers.”  

While the steel makers applauded the ITC decision, many PVF distributors bemoaned that it would severely stoke inflation in steel pipe prices in months to come. “This is huge,” remarked one member of the Industrial Piping Council at a meeting of the group in Chicago during late June.

For more information on this check the U.S. International Trade Commission Web site at www.usitc.gov.