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Old 10-07-2006   #1 (permalink)
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U.S. automakers call for end to steel tariffs

The Big Six U.S. automakers (General Motors, Ford Motor, Toyota Motor, DaimlerChrysler, Honda Motor and Nissan Motor) are calling for the U.S. International Trade Commission to put an end to heavy tariffs on imported steel. Current tariffs boost the price of high-grade steel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Korea by about 30 percent, at a time when automakers are struggling with steel prices that have skyrocketed 68 percent in the past two years.

On the other side of the fence is the U.S. steel industry, which lobbied hard for the tariffs in the early '90s to prevent its foreign competitors from dumping cheap steel into the U.S. market at prices the domestic producers couldn't match.

Automakers contend that the steel industry no longer needs protective tariffs to compete, while the Steel Manufacturers Association contends that removing the protection would damage the industry while providing insignificant cost benefit to the automakers.

Considering that GM alone buys about 10 million tons of steel annually, we're guessing that the automakers have a pretty strong case, and with the U.S. steel industry employing about 150,000, vs. the auto industry's 2.4 million workers, it's not hard to see which side should be able to muster the greatest political support.
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