Thomas Steel seeks tariffs on Japanese steel

WARREN – Blaming Japanese “dumped imports,” Warren’s Thomas Steel Strip suffered a “crippling lost sale” late last year that cost the company business in making steel used to manufacture AA alkaline batteries.

That loss wasn’t the first time Thomas, the only remaining domestic producer of a specialized nickel-plated steel used for alkaline batteries and automobile fuel lines, lost significant business to Japan, and now the company is calling for help from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission.

In a 66-page federal petition filed last week, Thomas Steel Strip and its Washington, D.C., attorneys produced evidence including ships’ manifests, market intelligence and other research to accuse Japan of undercutting its shipments to customers. The company is asking investigators to impose anti-dumping duties on Japanese imports of the specialty nickel-plated steel.

In the federal documents, Thomas Steel Strip argued lost market share to Japanese producers suppressing domestic producer prices has led to company operations falling from profits in 2010 to losses in 2012. Specific figures were not released publicly.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, supported Thomas Steel Strip’s petition, saying he believes the industry is being “unfairly threatened by imports from Japan” of the specialty steel products.

“We need to ensure that unfair trading practices don’t put people out of work,” Ryan said. “I have always said that the American worker is the best in the world – all we need to compete is a level playing field.”

Thomas Steel Strip is owned by Tata Steel Limited of India.