House Manufacturing Caucus Examines State of Pennsylvania’s Steel Industry - Legislators call for federal action to protect domestic steelmakers
HARRISBURG – The House Manufacturing Caucus on Wednesday held an informational meeting at the Capitol, led by Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny), the caucus co-chairman, which examined the current state of Pennsylvania’s steel industry.

Caucus members heard from presenters representing the steel industry and manufacturing sector, who provided testimony regarding the negative effect of subsidized steel imports and unfair foreign trade practices. Evankovich is prime sponsor of a House resolution that calls for action on the federal level to protect American steelmakers.

“Our focus was the effect of global impacts on steel and its support industries, and how the Commonwealth can be a leader in resolving some of those problems on the state and federal levels,” said Evankovich.

According to an industry report, finished steel imports increased by a dramatic 36 percent in 2014, which was an all-time record. Unfairly traded steel imports have reached historic levels in 2015-16, making up almost 30 percent of the domestic steel market.

“If not addressed by our government leadership, Pennsylvania and its economy will continue to be among those states most harmed by this unfair trade activity,” Chris Masciantonio, United States Steel Corporation general manager for government affairs, told caucus members.

Masciantonio said U.S. Steel filed a complaint in April with the United States International Trade Commission to initiate an investigation against the largest Chinese steel producers and their distributors. The complaint alleges the illegal conspiracy to fix prices, the theft of trade secrets and the circumvention of trade duties by false labeling.

“Their goal is simple: to bankrupt our steel companies and dominate the international market,” explained David Taylor, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association president. “They are waging economic warfare against us.”

House Resolution 811, sponsored by Evankovich, encourages federal elected officials to take necessary action to protect the domestic steel industry from unfair trade laws and competition. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the House on Monday.

“It is clear to me that there is a big difference between free trade and fair trade,” Evankovich said. “When American steel companies are given the opportunity to compete on a level playing field, they can do so very well. We are calling on the president and Congress to ensure that happens.”

“Many of the possible measures to address the onslaught our manufacturing sector is facing must happen at the federal level, such as broad-based import restraints and enforceable measures to reduce global overcapacity,” said Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing president.

Other caucus members said they gained a greater understanding of the serious threat foreign steel poses to the steel industry and Pennsylvania’s economic future.

“We must enforce existing laws against illegal market ‘dumping’ of potentially unsafe and environmentally destructive foreign-made steel that puts Pennsylvania workers and citizens at an unfair disadvantage,” said Rep. Stephen Bloom (R-Cumberland).

“Clearly, the steel industry in Pennsylvania is being hampered by an influx of steel from China at a price lower than what American companies can buy in raw materials, much less create steel products,” said Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland/Somerset). “The federal government needs to step in and pursue policies that can level the playing field.”

A video of the entire meeting is available for viewing on YouTube.

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