Steelmakers allege unfair trading Counterparts overseas face dumping charge.

2 U.S.

April 22, 1992|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Bethlehem Steel Corp. and Inland Steel Industries Inc. have filed petitions alleging unfair trade practices by producers of specially made steel bar and rod products in Brazil, France, Germany and Britain.

The petitions, filed April 13, came weeks after import quotas expired and talks on a multinational steel agreement broke down in Geneva.

Bethlehem, which operates the Sparrows Point steel mill in Baltimore County, had said it probably would take such action if President Bush did not extend the import quotas, known as voluntary restraint agreements.

The charges of dumping and subsidizing steel production were filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Bethlehem spokesman Henry Von Spreckleson said the company is studying additional products and countries for possible additional actions.

The petitions name only makers of leaded or bismuth carbon steel bars and rods. Those companies make specialized products that are used primarily in spark plugs and other automotive parts.

About 265,000 tons of the specialized products are used annually in the United States, out of steel shipments of 78.9 million tons, Mr. Von Spreckleson said. Bethlehem and Chicago-based Inland produce about 70 percent of the leaded or bismuth carbon steel in the United States.

Bethlehem announced in January that it was trying to sell its bar, rod and wire division, which makes the leaded and bismuth bars and rods. The division, based in Johnstown, Pa., includes the Sparrows Point rod mill, which has a work force of about 350.

Bethlehem said the trade charges, if successful, could provide an incentive for a company to buy the division. Mr. Von Spreckleson said the company does not intend to continue to operate the division.

The Department of Commerce has 20 days from the date of the filing to decide whether the charges justify an investigation. The International Trade Commission has 45 days to make such a determination.

Bethlehem and Inland Steel estimate the duties required to eliminate the effect of dumping would be more than 128 percent for products from Brazil, 69 percent for France, 79 percent for Germany and 53 percent for the United Kingdom.

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