Roundtable Weekly
Roundtable Cautions Policymakers on Potential Economic Harm of New Duties on Fabricated Structural Steel Imports
June 28, 2019

The Real Estate Roundtable this week urged Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross to reject calls from domestic producers of fabricated structural steel (FSS) to change the rules governing how trade subsidies or dumping are calculated – and to consider how potential tariffs on FSS from Canada and Mexico could have a significant impact on jobs and growth in U.S. real estate.  ( Roundtable comment letter , June 27)

Fabricated structural steel is a key material used in major real estate and infrastructure projects, including high-rise developments, bridges, and ports.

  • The Commerce Department, in conjunction with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), is conducting an antidumping and countervailing duty investigation into imported FSS from Canada, China and Mexico.  (Commerce Department announcement, Feb. 26 and ITC initial report on FSS, March 2019) 
  • FSS is a key material used in major real estate and infrastructure projects, including high-rise developments, bridges, and ports. The Roundtable wrote to the USITC commissioners about the FSS issue in March, urging a cautious approach to the investigation and emphasizing the potential economic harm that new tariffs could cause.  (Roundtable comment letter, March 1) 
  • In March, the USITC found that U.S. imports of fabricated structural steel from the three identified countries are causing injury to U.S. domestic producers.  (Reuters, March 20, 2019) Commerce is now analyzing whether the imports are being dumped in the U.S. market at less than fair value and whether the foreign producers are receiving unfair government subsidies.  If Commerce makes an affirmative finding in either of these investigations, it will impose duties on the imports to offset the amount of dumping or unfair subsidization that is found to exist.    
  • In the June 27 letter, Roundtable President Jeffrey DeBoer states, "As these investigations proceed, it is critical that they are conducted in a fair and balanced manner with due allowance for the complexities of FSS markets."  The letter requests that Commerce "reject calls from certain parties to change the rules for calculating subsidies or dumping, such as revising sales values for completed, erected projects."  It also explains how a decision that leads to higher construction costs will have a negative effect on new development and construction activity in the United States.  
  • The letter reiterates The Roundtable's view that if the USITC investigation proves unlawful or inappropriate dumping or subsidies of FSS are causing injury to U.S. businesses, then action to counter those unfair trade measures is warranted. 
  • In 2017, imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China, and Mexico were valued, in the aggregate, at more than $1.9 billion.  (Commerce Department Fact Sheet

The preliminary ruling in the subsidies / countervailing duty case is due to be announced July 8 and the initial ruling in the dumping investigation is expected in September.