U.S. asks for talks with China over steel dispute

In the latest round of a lengthy dispute with China over a type of steel made by AK Steel in Middletown, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Monday that he wants talks with that nation to assure compliance with the law.

Froman said China claims that it has brought the duties it imposes on U.S. exports of electrical steel into compliance with World Trade Organization rules.

The steel is made by AK Steel Corp. here and by Allegheny Ludlum, based in Pennsylvania.

China’s previous actions cut off more than $250 million in exports of the high-tech steel product that’s used in electrical system applications. In 2012, the United States won a dispute at the WTO that China broke WTO rules with its imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties, Froman said.

“The United States continues to pursue this dispute to ensure that China follows through on its obligations under the ruling and does not further harm U.S. exports, and the American workers and firms that make them, by abusing trade remedies,” the USTR said.

It is the first time the United States has initiated a proceeding in the WTO to challenge a claim by China that it has complied in a WTO dispute.

“Supporting American jobs is our number one job. And to ensure that Americans see the full benefit of the rules and market access we have negotiated in our international trade agreements, the President put enforcement of America’s rights in the global trading system on a par with opening markets for U.S. exports,” Froman said.

Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman Monday applauded the move. They issued a joint statement, saying 150 workers at AK Steel’s plant in Zanesville are particularly affected by this case.

“The Administration needs to do everything in its power to protect the American steel industry and the domestic workers and businesses it supports,” Brown said. “That means not allowing countries like China to circumvent international law and putting our country’s steel industry on an unfair playing field. “

Said Portman: “China must follow the trading rules, and we must act when they fail to live up to the laws on the books. Manufacturing exports are vital to Ohio workers, and I will continue to support efforts to ensure that our workers are able to operate on a level playing field around the world.”

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