New bill will help steel companies combat foreign competition

Work may soon be getting busier for steel industry recruiters, thanks to a Congressional initiative aimed at helping the struggling sector. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have approved legislation to strengthen the country's trade laws. Among the new items will be programs that give steelmakers improved measures against steel dumping and imports that have been heavily subsidized, according to The Northwest Indiana Times.

Provisions also address currency manipulation and improve customs enforcement against foreign steel companies.

Both chambers of Congress must pass an updated version of the bill that resolves differences before it becomes a law.

In May of 2014, the Department of Labor Statistics projected a 2.4 percent rise in employment in the structural iron and steel workers field.

However, 2015 has not been a strong one for the industry. U.S. Steel Corp, based in Pittsburgh, has already laid off 2,800 workers this year, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported in late-April. The newspaper added that the company could let go of another 6,200 employees by the end of the year at plants all across the country.

Leveling the playing field

The majority of these layoffs are a result of a rise in foreign steel companies. Steel imports have taken an all-time high 32 percent of market share, the Northwest Indiana Time said. Domestic companies argue that international competitors have an advantage because of unfair trade laws, the reason the steel industry supports this new congressional bill.

Thomas Gibson, the president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute, told the Northwest Indiana Times gives American workers a chance to go against their global competition.

"Passage of this bill is a tremendous win for the steel industry, and a critical step in helping mitigate the harm from the surge in unfair imports that has severely impacted the American steel industry," Gibson said.

"The provisions will help ensure that the anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws remain effective tools for U.S. companies and workers to combat foreign unfair trade practices. If the American steel industry is to regain its pre-recession strength then the government must not let trade cheaters off the hook."

U.S. Steel and other domestic steelmakers recently filed a trade case against China, India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan, stating that they have used unfair trade practices such as selling subsidized steel for less than it's worth in an effort to land contracts.