In bold move, U.S. Steel launches campaign to stop China imports

Wed Apr 27, 2016 5:16am EDT
 
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Steel Corp (X.N: Quote) has launched a campaign to prevent imports from China's largest steel producers, it said on Tuesday, the boldest step yet by a U.S. company as a trade brawl with the world's largest steel producer escalates.

In a complaint to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. steelmaker called on regulators to investigate dozens of Chinese producers and their distributors for allegedly conspiring to fix prices, stealing trade secrets and circumventing trade duties by false labeling.

Analysts said it could be the most significant development in U.S. steel trade in a quarter of a century, and will likely ratchet up tension between China and major steel producing nations, as the global industry grapples with chronic oversupply and sluggish demand.

The petition, known as Section 337 and used to protect against intellectual property theft, listed some of China's top producers, including Hebei Iron & Steel Group (000709.SZ: Quote) and Anshan Iron and Steel Group and Shandong Iron & Steel Group Co [SDONGG.UL].

"We have said that we will use every tool available to fight for fair trade," said U.S. Steel Corp President and Chief Executive Officer Mario Longhi in a statement.

"With today's filing, we continue the work we have pursued through countervailing and antidumping cases and pushing for increased enforcement of existing laws."

It comes after U.S. officials last week warned that China should take steps to cut excess output or face possible trade action and Australia said it will impose import duties on certain types of Chinese steel to protect domestic steelmakers.

China's Commerce Ministry called steel a "mature product" where "intellectual property rights disputes do not exist", and said industry from both the United States and China should work together to address overcapacity caused by weak global demand.

"So-called accusations of intellectual property rights violations have no factual basis. We hope the U.S. International Trade Commission will reject these accusations," the ministry said on Wednesday in a statement on its website.   Continued...

 
The steel slab yard at the ThyssenKrupp Steel USA factory is pictured in Calvert, Alabama November 22, 2013.  REUTERS/Lyle Ratliff