December 22, 2008

TRADE WAR: Unions, WTO, and Chinese Steel Pipes

For much of 2008 the United Steelworkers union and the following US steel makers: Maverick Tube Corp., U.S. Steel Corp., Tex-Tube Co., TMK IPSCO Tubulars, Northwest Pipe, ACIPCO, and Stupp Corporation, have petitioned Washington for protection against imports from China of specialty steel pipes used chiefly in the oil & gas industry. The US International Trade Commission today granted their wish with a countervailing duty up to 40% on Chinese imports.

Meanwhile, Beijing has requested its first ever prope by the World Trade Organization (WTO) into the matter and on similar duties imposed on certain imports of vehicle tires.

The USW is one of the most vocal critics of trade with China. I suspect that we will see many such trade disputes over the course of the next year in particular and certainly between now and 2013 when the protectionist loophole in the China Trade Relations Act expires.

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