US cracks down on foreign pipe

Oil pipeline14 July 2014, News Wires – The US Commerce Department on Friday set duties on South Korean steel pipe used in the oil and natural gas industry, reversing itself after intense lobbying from local producers, workers and lawmakers.

The move was an about face for Commerce, which confirmed in its final determination that duties would also be set on oil country tubular goods (OCTG) from India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Although the investigation found pipe from Ukraine had also been sold in the United States below cost, Commerce said it would not collect any duties, according to a Reuters report.

Several US steel companies lodged the complaint last year after imports of pipe from the nine countries doubled to account for nearly two-thirds of the US market, according to steel industry body American Iron and Steel Institute.

The ruling is a boon for the companies, which include United States Steel, pipe specialist Tenaris subsidiary Maverick Tube Corporation, Boomerang Tube, Energex Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group, Northwest Pipe, Tejas Tubular Products, Russia’s TMK IPSCO and France’s Vallourec Star.

In its preliminary ruling in February, Commerce found goods from India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam were sold below cost in the United States. But it did not initially find such dumping from South Korea, whose producers include Hyundai Hysco and Nexteel.

Imports from Hyundai Hysco will have duties of 15.75%, from Nexteel they will be 9.89% and all other South Korean producers will have a duty of 12.82%, Commerce said.

Analysts had been cautiously optimistic about a reversal, which is not uncommon. Preliminary rulings rely on information provided by the companies involved and this is then verified during the final investigation stage.

US imports of South Korean oil country tubular goods, used to drill for oil and gas, were worth $818 million in 2013, more than the imports from all eight other countries combined, according to Commerce data.

The February ruling sparked a surge of complaints: lawmakers and industry groups wrote to Commerce to express concern, steel industry executives complained to Congress and steelworkers staged rallies around the country.

The duties are still subject to a final decision by the US International Trade Commission, which is due by 25 August for India, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam and by 23 September for South Korea and Taiwan.


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