NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Steel Needs No Protection From Imports

March 30, 1999

There is no import crisis facing America's big steel producers, no reason to panic and no reason to restrict shipments coming into the country, experts report. Steel industry profits are up and imports are down.

Yet two weeks ago, the House passed a bill which would impose quotas and other restrictions on steel imports. Critics charge that it was stampeded into doing so by a well-orchestrated campaign by companies and unions to create political hysteria and spread misinformation.

Those critics are debunking the industry's arguments.

  • The inflow of foreign-made steel rose 33 percent last year for a variety of reasons, but has already fallen back to levels even lower than those of 1997.
  • Last year, the industry racked up its second-best year ever -- 102 million tons shipped and earnings of $1.4 billion.
  • A study by former White House economic adviser Murray Weidenbaum and colleagues at Washington University St. Louis found that voluntary steel import quotas tried in 1984 actually resulted in more unemployment in industries using steel than jobs saved in steel making.
  • Last week, the Commerce Department reported that steel imports fell in February to two-million metric tons -- 15 percent less that the monthly average in 1997 when the domestic industry had its best year ever.

Source: Editorial, "Oops! Source of Steel-Import Panic Suddenly Evaporates," USA Today, March 30, 1999.


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