WASHINGTON -- Users of steel and other raw materials should get a say before government decides to impose or continue punitive tariffs on imports, an automotive suppliers' group says.
If they could make their case, members of the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association say, more tariffs would be cut. The costs of steel and other materials would come down, MEMA argues.
The Commerce Department and International Trade Commission can adopt duties that penalize importers for selling below cost in this country. Such duties tend to benefit domestic producers.
The federal agencies now hear "only half the story," says Neal Zipser, MEMA's vice president for marketing and communications.
A bill before Congress would allow suppliers and other commodity users to argue against continuing such duties. The federal agencies would have to listen to the users' arguments as well as those of domestic producers.
MEMA, which represents about 700 suppliers, says the tariffs often continue long after the alleged harm of low-cost imports to domestic producers is remedied. The results, MEMA argues, include higher costs and decreased availability of materials.
That's especially true of steel, says Ann Wilson, MEMA's vice president of government affairs. That fact "has directly contributed to increased bankruptcies and job losses among steel-consuming manufacturers," Wilson says.
Ziad Ojakli, vice president of corporate affairs at Ford Motor Co., supports the proposed legislation. He said in a statement: "We need to assure that U.S. industrial users and manufacturers have a seat at the table in trade remedy proceedings."
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