US to probe steel pipes from Turkey, 8 others

US to probe steel pipes from Turkey, 8 others

US to probe steel pipes from Turkey, 8 others

American steel pipe makers have been complaining as imports of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from the nine countries totaled $1.8 billion in 2012. REUTERS Photo

The U.S. Commerce Department on July 23 launched one of its biggest trade investigations in years into charges that manufacturers in nine countries including Turkey are selling steel pipe used by oil and natural gas producers at unfairly low prices in the United States.

Imports of oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from the nine countries totaled nearly $1.8 billion in 2012, more than double their total in 2010, as rising U.S. oil and natural gas production have increased demand for the pipe.

“The anti-dumping investigation will affect our sector severely,” the General Secretary of Association of Steel Piper Manufacturers (ÇEBİD), Mehmet Zeren told Hürriyet Daily News in a written statement. Declaring that the sector representatives will do the necesssary things to ensure that investigation will be over without taking any measures, Zeren said, they hope to overcome this process with minimum losses.

Turkey’s share from the steel pipe imports of the U.S., which worries and irks domestic producers, is 4 percent, said Zeren, who also told that the probe is already damaging Turkish steel pipe makers’ business.

“The importer companies are hesitating to buy goods in case the investigation [kicked off by the U.S. against imported steel pipes] will end positively and this causes market losses for us,” he had said last week.

Along with Turkey, the petition cited imports from India, South Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.

In 2010, the United States slapped duties on imports of OCTG from China after they hit about $2.8 billion in 2008. That created an opening for the other foreign suppliers.

U.S. producers are asking for anti-dumping duties as high as 240 percent on India, 158 percent on South Korea, 118 percent on Thailand and 111 percent on Vietnam to offset what they say is below market pricing, and lesser but still hefty duties on the other five countries.

For two countries, Turkey and India, U.S. producers are seeking additional countervailing duties to offset alledged government subsidies.

Voting in mid-August

The Commerce Department will make a preliminary decision on countervailing duties in September and on anti-dumping duties in December. Final decisions will come in 2014.

U.S. companies seeking the relief include U.S. Steel, which told the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) at a hearing yesterday that it spent $2.1 billion in 2007 to boost its OCTG production by buying a smaller manufacturer.

But “for three years now, I have heard the same tale from our salesmen: ‘Imports are underselling us. We must lower our prices or our customers will go elsewhere,’” Doug Matthews, a senior vice president at U.S. Steel, told the panel.

The commission will vote in mid-August on whether there is enough evidence that the imports are injuring U.S. producers for the Commerce Department to continue with the probe. Other producers involved in the case include Maverick Tube, Energex Tube and TMK IPSCO.

They told the Commission that U.S. demand for OCTG between 2010 and 2012 was the strongest they had seen in 25 years, but imports prevented them from getting a fair price for their products.