• Kyodo

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The U.S. Commerce Department issued a preliminary ruling Wednesday that Japan’s steelmakers are selling large-diameter welded steel pipes in the United States below fair market value and slapped up to 30.8 percent antidumping tariffs on Japanese imports.

The Commerce Department made the decision after a four-month antidumping probe into the Japanese-made steel pipes for use in gas and oil pipelines.

The U.S. International Trade Commission, acting on a petition from U.S. steelmakers, issued a preliminary decision on Feb. 22 that imports of the steel pipes from Japan are hurting the U.S. steel industry.

The antidumping tariffs announced by the Commerce Department on Wednesday would be imposed if the ITC and the Commerce Department uphold their preliminary decisions in their final rulings.

Three U.S. steelmakers — Berg Steel Pipe Corp. in Florida, American Cast Iron Pipe Co. in Alabama and Stupp Corp. in Louisiana — filed the antidumping petition in January and sought antidumping duties of 31.57 percent for the imports from 10 Japanese makers, including Nippon Steel Corp., Kawasaki Steel Corp., Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. and NKK Corp.

The petitioners say Japan’s exports of the products surged by 40 percent in the first 10 months of 2000 from the previous year to 200,000 tons.

The petition over the steel pipes was the 13th lodged by the U.S. steel industry against Japanese-made steel products since the so-called steel crisis hit U.S. steelmakers in the wake of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis.

Eleven complaints have already been settled. Washington has imposed punitive duties on seven categories of steel products while dismissing charges against four categories.

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