ITC: U.S. Steel hurt by Chinese pipe imports

U.S. makers of pipes used for oil wells are being hurt by a surge of Chinese imports, says a federal agency, which laid a decision that could lead to tariffs of as much as 99 percent on $2.6 billion in goods.

The International Trade Commission ruled 6-0 in favor of domestic companies such as U.S. Steel Corp., the U.S. operations of Evraz Group SA and Wheatland Tube Co., Mercer County, which is controlled by the closely held Carlyle Group. The United Steelworkers union also joined in filing the case.

Five of the commissioners said they voted for the petition because there is a threat of harm to U.S. producers.

The case may help domestic producers withstand a drop in demand for the pipe following the collapse in oil prices over the past year. It also may lead to a wave of trade complaints against China, as the contracting economy prompts American companies to seek protection.

The decision is the first of four the U.S. companies must win to get duties on the imports of Chinese pipes. Later this year the U.S. Commerce Department will rule on whether China is subsidizing its pipe makers and by how much, as well as how deeply the manufacturers are discounting their products for the U.S. market. That will determine the level of duties.

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