NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What Problem With Steel Imports?

May 19, 1999

U.S. steel manufacturers have persuaded the House of Representatives that they need help against wily foreign manufacturers who are giving their product away to U.S. consumers.

But what are the facts? A recent Cato Institute report sheds light on this question.

  • Domestic steel shipments have been at their second-highest level in 25 years.
  • The share of world steel output captured by U.S. steel producers has risen to 12.6 percent from 12.3 percent in 1997.
  • Although steelworkers' unions frequently bring up the issue of protecting American jobs by putting a lid on imports of foreign steel, the number of workers in major steel-using industries outnumber workers in the domestic steel industry by a ratio of 40 to 1.

So if foreign steelmakers were subsidizing the steel needs of American consumers as is charged, that would be good news to a great many Americans.

Source: Brink Lindsey, Daniel T. Griswold, and Aaron Lukas, "The Steel 'Crisis' and the Costs of Protectionism," Trade Briefing Paper No. 4, April 16, 1999, Cato Institute, Center for Trade Policy Studies, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, (202) 842-0200; Macroscope, "Stealing the Steel Market?" Investor's Business Daily, May 19, 1999.


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