Cannon says fate of Geneva Steel in Congress’ hands

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    By MIKI MEEK

    Geneva Steel will be forced to shut down unless Congress takes action against low-priced steel imports, said Geneva CEO Joe Cannon on Tuesday.

    Cannon and several other representatives of the steel industry appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on a panel to discuss trade laws and solutions for a troubled U.S. steel market.

    Geneva’s financial stability was weakened by a wave of imports that surged into the United States in 1996 and 1998, Cannon said. These huge import increases have driven domestic prices down and reduced the value of Geneva’s major products by $80 to $100, he said.

    Although anti-dumping cases have been won against Japan and Russia, foreign imports still remain a problem, he said. Imports from such countries as China, Australia and South Africa are continuing to flood the U.S steel industry and undercut domestic steel manufacturers, Cannon said.

    These imports are hitting the West Coast first and have caused several problems for Geneva over the past six months, he said. Since September, Geneva has filed for bankruptcy, laid-off more than 800 employees and lost $50 million in its fourth quarter, he said.

    Cannon urged the Finance Committee to request the International Trade Commission to begin an investigation of foreign steel dumping practices.

    “These international trading companies will never show any mercy to the U.S. market. They will bring in product from anywhere in the world where there is more supply than demand and dump it into the U.S. market at prices significantly below U.S. producers’ cost,” he said.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also made a statement before the Finance Committee in support of Cannon and a bill to reduce foreign imports, which the House passed with a vote of 289-141.

    The bankruptcy of Geneva and several other U.S. steel mills are the result of “unfair steel imports,” Hatch said.

    “The time has come to adopt the international standard and to place American industry in general — and steel in particular — on an equal footing with their competitors,” he said.

    Kelly Hansen, president of the local United Steelworkers union, said he was pleased with the testimonies of Sen. Hatch and Cannon before the Finance Committee. The facts were laid out and showed that the steel industry needs legislation that will provide immediate relief as well as prevent foreign imports from being dumped into the United States in the future, he said.

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