Biden Administration’s Actions to Address Mexico Steel Surge Fall Woefully Short

Biden Administration’s Actions to Address Mexico Steel Surge Fall Woefully Short

WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today released a statement after the Biden administration announced actions that seek to address Mexico’s ongoing and blatant violation of the 2019 joint steel agreement. In that agreement, the U.S. agreed to drop Section 232 tariffs and Mexico agreed to restrain steel export volume to 2015-17 levels. Today’s actions include imposing a 25% Section 232 steel tariff on all products melted and poured or smelted and cast outside of Mexico. 

However, the actions fail to address Mexico’s actual breach of the agreement and will not restrain Mexico’s surging steel export volumes. The White House should have imposed tariffs or quotas on conduit, rebar, and wire rod, as well as other steel products that Mexican companies have increasingly shipped tariff-free into the U.S. market at levels far above what they agreed to. 

A recent economic analysis from CPA found that more than one million American jobs are at risk as a result of the Mexican steel surge. Mexico’s increased shipments now account for over 87% of U.S. imports of steel conduit and import levels are nearly 500% over the historic baseline. For steel conduits specifically, imports from Mexico reached 472% above the 2015-2017 baseline period, based on Panjiva data. Initial 2024 trade data suggested the surge will rise to nearly 700% over the baseline in 2024.

“Today’s announcement shows that White House foreign policy bureaucrats that negotiated this deal care more about Mexico than about American workers,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “The White House’s failure to address Mexico’s violation of the joint steel agreement has already resulted in one U.S. steel plant closure and hundreds of American workers losing their job. Another plant is likely to close this year. CPA members are wondering why we make trade deals like the 2019 Joint Agreement when we refuse to enforce them. We appreciate Ambassador Tai’s efforts to bring Mexico to the negotiating table, but it is clear the final negotiators at the White House failed to put the interests of American steel manufacturers and workers first. Now, Congress must act to impose tariffs on the Mexican steel and aluminum sectors.”

For more than two years, CPA has been calling on the administration to take immediate action to address Mexico’s steel surge. Despite Mexico clearly breaching the agreement for the last several years to the detriment of the U.S. steel sector, the Biden administration chose to negotiate rather than simply enforce the agreement according to its terms.

Last month, American domestic steel producers and organizations representing the industry and its workers sent a letter to President Biden urging the administration to take immediate action to address Mexico’s ongoing and blatant violation of the 2019 joint steel agreement. In March, CPA applauded U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) for introducing the Stop Mexico’s Steel Surge Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reinstate a 25% Section 232 steel tariff on Mexico to address surging imports.

The Mexican Steel Surge is Harming CPA Member Companies

CPA member companies producing steel products have facilities at risk across 34 states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, Alabama, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York.

These plants are often in poor and underserved communities that provide jobs paying wages at more than double the regional average. The continued surge of Mexican steel imports has already had a devastating impact on U.S. manufacturers and workers. The surge in imported Mexican steel conduit led directly to the closure of Zekelman Industries’ Long Beach mill, with the loss of 150 jobs. Wheatland Tube, a steel conduit manufacturer, announced it is closing its Long Beach, California factory and laying off 145 workers. The company cited surging Mexican steel conduit imports as the reason for the plant closure.


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