WASHINGTON — U.S. producers of stainless steel butt-weld pipe fittings in mid-February pointed to increasing volumes of low-priced imports from China as a serious and growing problem.
"What is occurring here is a remarkable influx of Chinese stainless fittings over a very short period of time and at depressed values," said David A. Hartquist, an international trade counsel speaking on behalf of the Flowline Division of Markovitz Enterprises, Gerlin and Shaw Alloy Piping Products.
Official U.S. Census Bureau data reflect that from an annual volume of 287,223 kilograms in 2002, stainless fittings imports from China skyrocketed 403% to 1,446,603 kg through the first 11 months of 2005. China is now the largest single source of stainless fittings imported into the United States among all countries that export stainless fittings to the U.S. market.
From January to November 2005, the average unit value of the Chinese stainless fittings was $8.91, almost 15% less than the average unit value of $10.46 during that period for total stainless steel fittings imported into the United States from all other countries.
"As disturbing as these trends are, they are not surprising given the unfair advantages Chinese producers have, not the least of which are the Chinese government's manipulative undervaluation of the yuan and other subsidies," Hartquist said. "We intend to monitor these imports from China very closely and take action as appropriate."
Hartquist practices international trade law at the Washington law firm Collier Shannon Scott, where he serves as chairman of the International Trade and Customs section.