June 29, 2017

Manchin Leads Letter Urging Department of Commerce to Protect Industries in West Virginia

Senator Manchin stresses the effects on the aluminum and steel industries if China would be considered a “market economy”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) led U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging him to continue treating China as a nonmarket economy when enforcing U.S. trade laws. West Virginia’s steel and aluminum industries in particular have been battered in recent years after being forced to compete with a flood of cheap imports from China. Chinese competitors can afford to flood the market with these cheap imports only because the Chinese government props them up, freeing them from the need to make a profit – the basic goal of any company operating in a free market.

The Senators said in part: “It is imperative that as a nation we use all of the tools available to ensure that our businesses can compete on a level playing field, and to correct any imbalances that exist in the global market. Government experts and U.S. industries have made the case that China continues to fail to meet the criteria that the U.S. government has deemed necessary to grant market economy status. We must continue to do our part to provide fair market conditions for U.S. businesses – because when we have a level playing field, U.S. businesses will compete fairly and win.”

“Today, our business is threatened by China’s long-term practice of market-distorting policies and overproduction. These practices have already impacted our business, and we believe the worst is still to come. Our plant in Ravenswood, WV, a long-time partner of the Defense industry and of the U.S. Army, has witnessed a significant increase of China’s exports of sheets and plates to the U.S., which have more than quadrupled in four years. Such a situation is obviously not sustainable in the long-term and has a direct impact on our ability to invest in our plants and in our assets. Our industry needs strong actions before it is too late, and we appreciate Senator Manchin’s leadership on this issue, which is so important to the economy of West Virginia.” Lloyd A. “Buddy” Stemple, CEO of Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood, West Virginia.

“Steel of West Virginia continues to suffer significant damage due to the unfair trade practices of our Chinese competitors.  Year after year we have lost a substantial amount of our business, particularly in the rail products we produce, to Chinese competition, which jeopardizes our ability to provide good, high-paying jobs at our plant in Huntington, WV.  As one example, we have seen our light rail production fall from approximately 12,000 tons per year to under 200 tons in 2016 due to Chinese mills dumping these products into our country.  We find ourselves competing with not only Chinese mills, we are competing with their government as well.

It is abundantly clear from the many trade actions taken recently against China and in the studies cited in the letter Senator Manchin and others sent to Secretary Ross that China will continue dumping, trans-shipping, and manipulating their currency. Making it easier for China to avoid most, if not all, trade related investigations by granting them Market Economy Status is definitely the wrong way to go.  Doing so will further damage our business, other businesses in WV, and businesses across the USA. We want to thank Senator Manchin for his efforts in helping us and all businesses in WV fend off the unfair trade practices of China as well as other countries,” said Timothy R. Duke, president and CEO, Steel of West Virginia, Inc.

Read the full letter here.