• Kyodo

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U.S. steelmakers charged Japan and 11 other countries Wednesday with dumping steel concrete reinforcing bars, known as “rebar,” in the U.S. market.

The Rebar Trade Action Coalition, a group of eight firms, filed a petition with the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission, a federal agency.

“The imports from 12 countries are being sold at less than fair value and are causing or threatening to cause material injury to the eastern tier and Gulf states region of the United States,” the coalition said.

The 11 other countries are Australia, Belarus, China, Indonesia, South Korea, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Venezuela.

In the petition, the U.S. firms are seeking an imposition of antidumping duties ranging from 43 percent to 188 percent against rebar imported from those countries.

“A dramatic increase of low-priced imports from the subject countries has caused declines in the regional industry’s market share, prices and profitability,” the coalition said.

The Japanese steel industry dismissed the new legal action as another “calculated campaign of protectionism and political attacks.”

“The filing of a dumping case against reinforcing bar is the next step in the U.S. mills’ plan for a virtual ban on Japanese steel imports,” Hidenori Tazawa, chairman of the Japan Steel Information Center in New York, said in a statement.

The Commerce Department has 20 days to review the adequacy of the petition and initiate an investigation.

If a probe is launched, the ITC must make a preliminary ruling within 45 days on whether U.S. industry is materially injured by the imports.

Rebar is a hot-rolled bar product used mainly in construction to reinforce concrete structures.

Including the latest action, the U.S. steel industry has lodged dumping complaints with the U.S. government against 11 categories of Japanese-made steel products.

Washington has imposed punitive duties on six products — hot-rolled steel sheets, stainless steel sheets, stainless steel wire rods, steel plate products, structural steel beams and seamless steel pipes.

The U.S. government dismissed charges against stainless steel round wire and cold-rolled steel, and two other categories are under investigation.