President Bush Tuesday announced his decision to impose temporary safeguards to help give Americas steel industry and its workers the chance to adapt to the large influx of foreign steel.
This relief will help steelworkers, communities that depend on steel, and the steel industry adjust without harming our economy.
Background on the Presidents Decision
Free trade is a cornerstone of President George W. Bushs agenda to help generate jobs for American workers, open markets to American products and services, and spur economic growth. While free trade is an engine of economic growth, sometimes changes in global economic conditions and large increases in imports can have dramatic consequences on industries, and this has been the case with Americas steel industry.
Foreign steel producers, often nurtured by government subsidies that have allowed them to build huge amounts of excess capacity, have flooded the U.S. market with imports, seriously affecting U.S. steel producers, workers and communities. Since 1998, firms accounting for thirty percent of U.S. steel-making capacity have filed for bankruptcy. Domestic steel prices in the last quarter of 2001 were at their lowest levels in 20 years, and a number of integrated and mini-mill producers posted significant fourth-quarter financial losses last year.
Last June President Bush asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to investigate the effects of imports on Americas steel industry and its workers. The ITC found that imports are a substantial cause of serious injury to the U.S. steel industry.
President Bush has decided to impose temporary safeguard measures on key steel products to provide appropriate relief to those parts of the U.S. steel industry that have been most damaged by import surges. This relief is being provided in response to the injury findings of the ITC and is consistent with the Presidents free trade agenda and his commitment to enforcing U.S. trade laws to help maintain the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.
These types of temporary safeguard measures are expressly allowed by WTO rules -- in fact, international trade rules have provided such relief for more than 50 years. Many of our major trading partners -- including the European Union, Japan, Korea, Brazil, and India -- have imposed safeguard measures covering a wide range of products.
The Presidents Commitment to Workers & Communities
Meeting the challenges and opportunities of the global steel marketplace will also require adjustment and restructuring of the American steel industry, to ensure its long-term competitiveness.
Restructuring will impact workers and communities in which they live and we must help hard-working Americans adapt to changing economic circumstances. The President has proposed a major expansion of the National Emergency Grants program to assist workers affected by restructuring with effective job training and assistance. The President has also proposed direct assistance with health insurance costs that will be available to workers and retirees who lose their employer-provided coverage. And the President supports coordinated assistance for communities and a strengthened and expanded trade adjustment assistance program. Americas workers are the most highly skilled in the world, and with effective training and adjustment assistance we will help them find better, higher paying jobs to support their families and boost our economy.