Klobuchar: “We must act to make sure American businesses can compete today and for generations to come, and…that domestic steel has an even playing field”
WASHINGTON – In her testimony before the International Trade Commission, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) emphasized the need to protect domestic steel production, expressing her strong support for antidumping and countervailing duty orders that have helped strengthen the mining industry on the Iron Range. These tariffs prevent foreign steel producers from dumping cheap steel in the American market.
“The people of Northeast Minnesota know the sting of steel dumping. It idles mines, taconite plants, and factories. It costs workers their good-paying mining and manufacturing jobs and devastates local economies,” said Klobuchar. “[This is] about making sure the deck isn’t stacked against American workers…Comprehensive steel tariffs are necessary to protect the livelihoods of workers in Minnesota and across the country.”
She continued: “The steel industry matters in America. It matters for our workers, it matters for consumers, it matters for our future. We can’t afford to go backwards. We must act to make sure American businesses can compete today and for generations to come, and the continuation of these tariffs can help ensure that domestic steel has an even playing field.”
Klobuchar has been a leader in efforts to fight foreign steel dumping and support domestic steel production.
In 2017, Klobuchar led a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the Trump administration to address Chinese steel dumping and overcapacity. Following consistent pressure from Klobuchar, USITC voted in 2014 to impose penalties on Mexican, Turkish, and Korean companies dumping steel in the U.S.
Klobuchar also sent a letter to successfully urge the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite approval of TAA petitions submitted by workers from the affected mining operations.
In February 2016, Klobuchar successfully pushed the Obama administration to combat steel dumping, including by strengthening inspections of steel imports at ports of entry and increasing personnel at the Commerce Department to help ensure tariffs are enforced against those who dump steel in the U.S.
Klobuchar’s full remarks as delivered are below.
Thank you to the Chairman, Vice Chairman, and distinguished Commissioners, I am grateful to return to speak before you, although I think it’s my first time doing this remotely, to appear before you to speak about maintaining current efforts to protect our steel industry and the importance of supporting the Commerce Department in its work to root out unfair trade practices.
I am here not just as a Senator from Minnesota, although I will note our state is the first in the nation in the movement of iron ore, a state where steel is responsible for billions and billions, I think the last report I saw, $5.4 billion in annual economic output and more than 10,000 jobs. But I’m also here as a granddaughter, which I’ve told you in the past, of an iron ore miner.
My grandpa worked 1,500 feet underground in the mines up in Ely. Back then—when the workers of the Iron Range produced the ore that built the cars and won the wars—I don’t think they would have imagined that one day their industry would be competing, as they do now, with companies in China, India, Italy, Korea and Taiwan. And now what’s happening is their grandkids and great-grandkids are facing the economic reality that foreign producers can and will flood the market with cheap, subsidized product if we don’t act.
In every generation, steelworkers have had to make adjustments to stay competitive. Whether they are adopting new technology or improving safety, steelworkers continue to adapt and innovate, as do the companies. And this, I will say, isn’t about simply allowing them to play on an even field, because if they play on an even playing field, they will win. It’s certainly not about giving anyone an unfair advantage. It’s about making sure the deck isn’t stacked against American workers.
The people of Northeast Minnesota know the sting of steel dumping. It idles mines, taconite plants, and factories. It costs workers their good-paying mining and manufacturing jobs and devastates local economies. Before these tariffs went into effect, more than half of the mining operations on the Iron Range had been idled. Our domestic steel industry had been losing sales and market share to underpriced foreign competitors. The entire steel market was destabilized.
In 2016, the Department of Commerce, as you know, instituted antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of CORE. These tariffs have worked. The imposed duties have offset the illegal practices by foreign exporters and lowered the market share of imported steel, allowing idled facilities to be brought back to life, giving the industry the confidence to make multi-billion dollar investments in new and upgraded steel facilities.
Today, much of the iron ore mined on Minnesota’s Iron Range is used to produce flat-rolled steel products, including CORE, that supply the U.S. auto industry and other critical manufacturing sectors. In fact, modern, advanced automotive steels would not be possible without the high-quality, environmentally-friendly iron ore pellets produced in Minnesota.
As you hear from Members of Congress and industry representatives today, I ask that you keep our Minnesota miners in mind. Comprehensive steel tariffs are necessary to protect the livelihoods of workers in Minnesota and across the country. They just need someone to have their backs.
The steel industry matters in America. It matters for our workers, it matters for consumers, and it matters for our future. We can’t afford to go backwards. And we must move to make sure American businesses can compete today and for generations to come. The continuation of these tariffs can help ensure that domestic steel has an even playing field.
I want to thank you for holding this hearing. All the times I’ve testified, you have listened. I have so appreciated your actions on so many fronts, on not just steel, but on others as well. And I want to thank you for time and time again, making decisions that I believe keep our economy strong. Thank you.