WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul released the following statement, on behalf of AK Steel’s unemployed workers in the Ashland community, at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. Department of Commerce hearing last week regarding the global steel industry and its impact on the U.S. steel industry and market. Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles and Tim Gibbs, President of the Ashland Alliance, also testified before the USTR and Commerce representatives.
Following AK Steel’s announcement of major layoffs at the Ashland Works plant in October 2015, Sen. Paul has worked closely with the Ashland delegation and community leaders to monitor the situation and has made several official inquiries into the U.S. Department of Labor to grant Trade Adjustment Assistance on behalf of the Ashland community.
The full text of the statement can be found below.
Mr. Jim Sanford
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Dear Mr. Sanford,
I write to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in regards to the the global steel industry situation and its impact on U.S. steel industry and market (Docket No: 2016-04857) published in the Federal Register on March 4, 2016. I know this is an issue incredibly important to the hard-working families in Ashland, Kentucky, as well many other communities in this great nation.
World wide demand for crude steel has decreased significantly in recent years. In countries like China domestic consumption has decreased so significantly that they and possibly other countries have resorted to exporting large amounts of steel far below fair market value, and drastically impacted U.S. steel producers. One such steel producer is AK Steel, which has a facility in Ashland, Kentucky. In October 2015, AK Steel announced the company would temporarily layoff close to 700 employees at its Ashland Works facility and, potentially, idle the plant. The company stated that one of the reasons for the temporary layoffs was the “onslaught of unfairly traded imports,” a situation more commonly known as “steel dumping”.
After AK Steel’s announcement, I had many conversations with local and industry officials, including AK Steel’s former CEO, James Wainscott, Ashland’s Mayor Chuck Charles, and other Ashland community leaders. Following these conversations, I sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and to the International Trade Administration (ITA) urging an expedited ruling to determine which country – China, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan, is responsible for artificially depressing the price of foreign steel introduced into U.S. markets. Congress has already taken legislative steps to help protect the U.S. steel industry. With my support, Congress passed and the President signed into law, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The Trade Enforcement Act will significantly mitigate future attempts of “dumping” imports in the U.S. In addition, I, along with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), sent a bipartisan and bicameral letter to President Obama requesting an expedited presidential investigation into accusations of steel dumping.
I made a promise to the Ashland Community and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to closely monitor this situation and aid in any way possible. The Department of Commerce’s hearing on this topic is greatly needed to give a voice to the employees, communities and businesses affected by “dumping”. I will continue to strongly advocate for those impacted by unfair trade practices.
I request that the that you take all necessary steps to support the U.S. steel industry in upcoming and ongoing trade cases. As well as continue to enforce current trade laws to defend our nations’ industries from dumping of cheap foreign steel.
Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.
UNITED STATES SENATOR