November 28, 2014

Mostly cloudy

Sherrod Brown targets South Korean steel dumping

From left, U.S. Steel chairman John P Surna and U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, tour the U.S. Steel Lorain plant in May. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

From left, U.S. Steel chairman John P Surna and U.S. Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, tour the U.S. Steel Lorain plant in May. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

The distance between Seoul, South Korea, and Lorain is some 6,700 miles, but South Korean trade practices hit close to home.

The 108 layoffs at U.S. Steel’s Lorain Tubular Operations in February were partially blamed on South Korea allegedly “dumping” steel on U.S. markets. Dumping refers to foreign nations subsidizing domestic industries such as steel. This allows the companies to export steel at artificially low prices that U.S. companies can’t compete with.

“American steelworkers are among the most talented in the world,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, said in a Tuesday news release after meeting with U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard in Washington D.C. “But in order for the industry to compete, our companies and workers must be given a level playing field. We cannot stand by while countries like South Korea unfairly dumping steel in the U.S. market, putting American jobs in jeopardy.”

Brown, co-chairman of the Senate Steel Caucus, called on the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose tariffs on South Korea. In February, the department imposed tariffs on eight countries but didn’t include South Korea. A final decision is expected by August, according to a department news release.

With the layoffs, Lorain Tubular employs 586 unionized workers and 105 managers, according to Sara Cassella, a U.S. Steel spokeswoman. Cassella wouldn’t say if or when the workers will be recalled. Tom McDermott, United Steelworkers Local 1104 president pro-tem, didn’t return calls.

Besides lost jobs, trade practices can also mean less local revenue. U.S. Steel is one of Lorain’s largest employers. It paid about $1.7 million in taxes in 2012 and is expected to pay more than $2 million in taxes for 2013, according to Mayor Chase Ritenauer. Ritenauer said in a Tuesday email that he supported Brown’s call for tariffs.

U.S. Steel, which employs 24,000 workers nationally, is one of the companies that filed a complaint with the department. “The evidence in this case clearly shows (steel) products are being illegally dumped in what remains the most open and attractive market in the world at prices below fair value and in ways designed to circumvent our trade laws,” Longhi said in a news release.

The criticism comes near the two-year anniversary on March 15 of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The Obama administration said the agreement has increased U.S. exports of manufactured goods like cars to South Korea which helps the steel industry.

However, Brown and free trade critics like Lori Wallach, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch director, say the numbers are being distorted. Brown, in a March 12 letter to Ambassador Michael Froman, U.S. trade representative, said South Korea exported 752,675 cars to the U.S. in 2013.
The U.S. exported 27,353 to South Korea. “It is critical we address any unfair trade practices quickly,” Brown wrote.

Wallach said in an interview that the U.S. exported just 3,400 more Cadillacs, Chryslers and Fords to South Korea between 2011 and 2013 while getting inundated with imports.

“We’re getting rid of existing jobs with the flooded imports in automobiles and auto parts and we’re not getting new jobs by increasing our exports in a really measurable way,” she said. “It really is the worst double whammy.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in a March 12 news release said South Koreans are, “buying more U.S. services than ever” and U.S. exports of services between 2011 and 2013 increased 18.5 percent, worth $19.4 billion.

However, Wallach said U.S. International Trade Commission data show the U.S. has lost between 48,000 and 60,000 jobs — including steel jobs — since the agreement. “The Korean FTA has been nothing but bad news for American workers,” she said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

  • bigmacky

    let’s see – a number of years ago it was Japan “dumping” cheap steel here in the states. hmmm unlike other nations worldwide – the USA doesn’t impose insane tariffs on imports – its about time we did to level the field – I am sure that our products can compete globally with the best of them

    • SniperFire

      What do you think about America’s food dumping?

      Or labor dumping for your Iphone?

    • Joe Smith

      Tariffs just raise the price for everybody and puts the money in the govs hands to waste instead of the people. They would just have a tariff equal to ours.

  • Sis Delish

    Korea doesn’t have an E.P.A.

  • golfingirl

    I think building the Keystone Pipeline and allowing fracking would create so much demand for steel pipe, U.S. Steel would be working 24/7. Even importing of the steel could not keep up with demand.

    But, that EPA and the environmentalist won’t allow it.

    Oh well, better remove that commercial Obama was using to showcase the comeback of Lorain, based on U.S. Steel’s booming business.

    “The criticism comes near the two-year anniversary on March 15 of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement”…….Hmmmm….who was president two years ago? Who controlled the Senate?

    I oppose the importation of men’s socks (insert any product here) from Vietnam. Mr. Brown, will you come to my rescue as well?

    Or are there not enough votes in socks?

    • Stan K

      You obviously have no idea what a container ship is and how many containers filled with pipe are waiting for this deal to go through.Keep golfingirl,because you have no future in politics or business.

      • golfingirl

        Thank you for your opinion.

        And I really don’t care to have a career in politics.

        The problem is with those who have made a career out of politics.

        Like the carpet bagger Sherrod Brown.

  • SniperFire

    Funny thing about Liberals. They whine about Korea sending us their Kias, but guess which political demographic in America is the LEAST likely to buy a car made by an American Union worker? (hint: there are NO domestic car label dealerships located in San Francisco anymore)

  • GreatRedeemer

    They just built a new furnace in Lorain, adding 450 jobs or
    at least that’s what the local politicians say.

  • golfingirl

    Wonder where that orange safety jacket was made, and those safety goggles, gloves and hard hat?

    I am sure Mr. Brown checked the tag to be sure they were made in the USA.

    He would never attire himself in any clothing made outside the USA, or would he?

    I suppose it depends on how many votes he could garner from the clothing industry

  • bigmacky

    iphone? nope – food dumping? where? is that like the “war for oil”? some war that was – 3.65 a gallon for gas – sheesh – oh let me guess you are the type that says Europe pays 10 bucks a liter? its fair? you dont mind paying taxes – obummer care is good for all? please – whatever – nah – sherod brown is a lacky and a puppet -

    • SniperFire

      You haven’t heard of farm subsides, then? LOL

      One man’s dumping is another man’s government support for vital export industries.

    • golfingirl

      I thought gasoline was only $1.86 a gallon?

      My mistake, that was when Bush left office.

  • golfingirl

    I think he should be more concerned about North Korea.

    Oh wait, Ambassador Dennis Rodman has that one under control.

    Just send Dennis a couple bottles of Scotch and he will take care of it.

  • golfingirl

    And now the Steelworkers Union is behind organizing and unionizing college football players.

    God help us all.

    • Sis Delish

      Certainly will slow down the Game considerably as players will be checking their Union Rules on each play, going on strike if they are forced to play in inclement weather, and throwing hissy fits if the shampoo in the locker room doesn’t leave their hair silky smooth…

    • SniperFire

      Watch what happens when the 95% of college athletes not in high-profile TV contract competition – say a lady lacrosse player – must start paying income taxes on their scholarships.

      • golfingirl

        Theire will be no lady lacrosse. College football profits subsidize other, money losing college sports.

        Take the money out of football, other sports which can’t pay for themselves will be dicontinued by the schools.

        Simple economics.

        But hey, The Steel Worker’s Union will gain a handful of new members, so they really don’t care.

        They cry when their membership is affected, but could really care less about others.

        We saw what happened recently in TN, when the VW workers told the UAW union they were not wanted.

        I think they are still a little sore about that one.

        Just will never understand why steel and autos are any different, and receive special treatment, than any other products which are imported.

        Time to realize, we do live in a global economy. Deal with it!

  • Jimmy Long

    Hey Golfingirl, I don’t know what makes you stupid, but it really works.

    • golfingirl

      Thank you for your opinion.

      So, where was your computer made?

      Why is always about steel and cars, which must be made in America?

      • SniperFire

        Jimmy Long won’t answer you. Leftists are are amazing hypocrites who check their principles at the door when it comes to their OWN money instead of somebody elses.

    • Vision

      She’s not stupid.

    • golfingirl

      Jimmy Long,

      Not sure what amusement you find in following me around these boards, offering no insight to any topic under discussion. Your comments consist of nothing but referring to me, and others here, as “stupid,” “ignorant” and “senseless.”

      Are you the same Jimmy Long who is the current president of the Lorain Growth Corporation? Been there since 2007? The same group who the City of Lorain refused to appropriate any further Community Development Block Grants in 2009, for the following reason:

      “No written plan was presented by the Lorain Growth Corporation to ensure objectives would be addressed and achieved. LGC has not presented a formal report to Lorain City Council detailing how past subsidies were utilized and the results. LCG has been integral for the downtown in the past but has fragmented its focus and lacks direction currently.” Two years after you went there.

      In 2006, the revenue for LCG was $128,349. In 2012, it was only $28,655, under your “leadership.”

      So what have you done for the City of Lorain? Your sole accomplishment seems to be an annual steak fry. Lorain looks worse now, than it did in 2007, when you started there.

      And you have the nerve to say I am “stupid.” Really? Tell me, you are not the same Jimmy Long, or are you? You should be embarrassed. Your performance is horrendous, if you are.

      No wonder you cannot bring any business into Lorain. You probably don’t want any new companies coming into town, unless they employ union workers. Well guess what, that shipped has sailed! Get over it!

      So where are your union buddies when it comes time for your fundraising efforts? Looks like they let you down my friend.