Pipe from India angers US steel workers: NYT

April 16th, 2009 - 10:43 am ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, April 16 (IANS) Angry over import of Indian pipes for a Canada-US oil pipeline, the steel workers union is trying to galvanise a national outrage over steel imports and raising suggestions of protectionism.

Hundreds of sections of imported steel pipe have been moving into Granite City, Illinois for use in a 1,600-mile oil pipeline from Alberta to Oklahoma being built by Canadian energy giant TransCanada to carry oil to American refineries from Canada’s tar sand fields.

The local steel mill, meanwhile, has been shut since December for lack of orders - the first time in its 130-year history - and nearly 2,000 workers are on furlough, the New York Times said in a report Thursday titled “Pipe From India Incenses Illinois Town.”

Since a former union official noticed the Indian pipes loaded on a passing freight train, the United Steelworkers union has been trying “to galvanize the Granite City story into national outrage over steel imports, raising suggestions of protectionism in the process,” the Times said.

The union and its workers want steel pipe for future projects to be made in the United States, creating domestic jobs.

With the economy in tatters, top corporate executives often state privately that they fear this downturn will fuel public sentiment against foreign-made products, the Times said. “The imported pipe has inflamed that sentiment.”

The union filed an antidumping lawsuit in Washington last Wednesday against tubular and pipe steel imported from China. A day earlier, workers staged a rally in Granite City, drawing more than 500 people to the same field where the lengths of “Indian pipe,” as the people in the steel town call them, have been stacked.

The union’s hope is that the Indian pipe episode will provoke a broad outcry, and similar finger-pointing, forcing Congress to tighten trade rules and pressuring companies that import steel to buy more from domestic suppliers instead, the daily said.

An American mill provided 30 percent of the pipe, Canadian mills 23 percent and a giant Indian company, Welspun, the remaining 47 percent, at a low enough price, TransCanada says, to compete with American-made pipe, even allowing for shipping.

“American and Canadian mills would have gotten more if they had had the available capacity to meet our requirements,” said Robert Jones, a TransCanada vice president cited by the Times.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Business |