Thomas Steel seeks tariffs

WARREN – A Japanese steel-dumping complaint filed by the owners of Warren’s Thomas Steel Strip has enough merit to warrant further investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission, federal authorities said last week.

Federal documents filed last week indicate “there is reasonable indication that an industry in the United States is materially injured by reason of imports from Japan … that are alleged to be sold in the United States at less than fair value.”

The determination was based on a preliminary investigation conducted over the last six weeks into whether “dumped imports” of the specialty nickel-plated, flat-rolled steel products from Japan were damaging business at Thomas Steel Strip on Warren’s west side. Thomas is the only remaining domestic producer of a specialized nickel-plated steel used for alkaline batteries and automobile fuel lines.

In March the company complained that it has lost significant business to Japan, including a “crippling lost sale” late last year that cost the company business in making steel used to manufacture AA alkaline batteries.

In a 66-page federal petition filed March 27, 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 asked 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.

As a result of the International Trade Commission’s preliminary determination issued May 20, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigation and is expected to issue a preliminary anti-dumping duty determination in early September.

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