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Crain’s Cleveland Business: Will Trump's policies help manufacturing gears turn?

PMA, NTMA featured in Crain’s Cleveland Business article.

Sunday, December 11, 2016
It may feel counterintuitive for domestic industry to lobby against government tariffs on imported goods.
 
But that's exactly what's happening now in the trade case on carbon and alloy steel cut-to length plate from a variety of countries. It's not that the Precision Metalforming Association and the National Tooling and Machining Association are anti-tariff. They just want what they refer to as "tool steel" to be exempt from this particular case.
 
Tool steel, they say, is highly specialized and low volume, and U.S. producers don't make enough to meet their needs. A tariff would just make the steel and, in turn, the tooling more expensive, which could harm the companies making it.
 
If that is indeed the case — though the number of tool and die makers in the U.S. has fallen — there are still a lot of employees who would stand to be affected, especially in Northeast Ohio. As of May 2015, the last available data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were almost 75,000 tool and die makers in the country. Ohio has the second-highest number of tool and die makers employed, falling only behind Michigan, and the Cleveland-Elyria region is the third-highest-ranked metropolitan area in terms of employment for these workers.
 
The U.S. Department of Commerce has made affirmative preliminary determinations in most of the antidumping (when a company is selling a product at less than fair value) and countervailing (when it's receiving financial assistance from a foreign government) portions of the case.
 
On the countervailing side, the commerce department preliminary determined China was subsidizing these products, while Korea was not. Commerce preliminarily determined companies from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey were all dumping goods in the U.S.
 
Final determinations from both the commerce department and the International Trade Commission, which determines whether there is injury to U.S. industry, for most are expected in 2017, with dates for the final determinations starting in January and running through May, according to the commerce department. (The department was expected to make final determinations in the cases against Brazil, South Africa and Turkey at the end of November, according to a fact sheet. The commission was expected to rule on those countries in January.)
 
The cases were brought by ArcelorMittal USA LLC, Nucor Corp. and SSAB Enterprises LLC. ArcelorMittal, which has a substantial plant in Cleveland, testified at the International Trade Commission's final hearing on this case on Nov. 30. Daniel Mull, executive vice president for sales and marketing of ArcelorMittal USA, spoke to the broader need for these tariffs.
 
"While my company, and other U.S. producers, manufacture tool steel, X-70 and other specialized types of plate products, please recognize that the bulk of subject imports are not these specialized products," Mull said in the testimony as written. "ArcelorMittal USA faces intense competition every day in the U.S. market from all of the subject countries in basic types of cut plate, like carbon structural steel plate. We also face intense import competition in some of the lower-volume specialized grades, where we used to be able to count on better profits. We have been losing sales to lower-priced subject imports across all types of cut plate."
 
Bob Insetta, director of specialty plate for ArcelorMittal USA, said in the testimony the company makes almost every type of cut-to-length plate the market needs, including tool steel, and that they're all "part of a broad continuum of the same product."
 
(Read more here.)