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U.S. Steelmakers to Discuss Imports

May 26, 1999

A deluge of cheap imports continues to threaten U.S. steelmakers and undermine the industry's productivity gains from its $60-billion investment in mills and equipment since the 1980s, industry officials say.

Trade reform and technology will dominate the agenda at this week's general meeting of the American Iron & Steel Institute in New York. The industry group is lobbying for greater government protection from imports and is helping U.S. producers become more efficient through the use of technology.

The record level of steel imports last year cut into U.S. market share and dragged prices down 20%, wiping profits and orders from the domestic industry's books. While prices have started to rebound, they remain well below 1997 levels.

Seeking to protect themselves, steelmakers have asked the U.S. government to curb shipments from certain countries and make it easier to track imports and appeal for government help. They're also looking for new uses for steel and new ways to lower costs.

"When you invest the kind of capital that the steel industry has been investing, you need to realize a return," AISI President and Chief Executive Andrew Sharkey said.

Washington-based AISI is lobbying for more protection for U.S. companies and more stringent restrictions on foreign companies that sell steel in the U.S. at unfairly low prices.

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