The Department of Commerce is looking into U.S. steel industry complaints that several foreign competitors have gained an unfair advantage by selling specialty steel tubing at artificially low prices, or benefiting from state subsidies.
The review of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, which is used in many automotive applications, could lead to import penalties designed to equalize the domestic price of the imported material.
Five companies -- ArcelorMittal Tubular Products; Michigan Seamless Tube; PTC Alliance Corp.; Webco Industries Inc.; and Zekelman Industries, Inc. -- filed a petition last month seeking relief from allegedly dumped or subsidized tubing from China, Germany, Italy, India, Korea and Switzerland.
According to the petition, the low-priced imports have undercut U.S. producers' prices, and resulted in lost sales, revenue and market share.
The U.S. government could assess tariffs designed to raise the steel's price to the domestic market level.
In the auto industry, cold-drawn mechanical tubing is used to make stabilizer bars, shock absorbers and struts, trailer suspensions, axle shafts, half shells, spacers, steering columns and gears. Tubes also help reduce the number of welds, saving manufacturers time and money, while strengthening the structure and reducing overall vehicle weight.
Cold-drawn refers to the cold finish after initial tube formation that changes the diameter, or wall thickness of the tubing, or both.