HOMEWOOD, Ala. — Sallie Bryant, Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party, sent a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce demanding action on what calls “unfair” Chinese steel dumping practices.
“The Department of Commerce has an opportunity to support the domestic steel industry by imposing trade remedies and other actions that would support America’s steel manufacturing,” Bryant said in a statement. “I hope they act swiftly and aggressively to help America’s steel industry thrive again.”
In the context of international trade, dumping refers to the practice of exporting a good to a foreign country and selling it at a lower price than is charged in the domestic market. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions railed against Chinese trade practices while in the U.S. Senate, and President Donald Trump made reigning in trade deficits one of the main focuses of his campaign.
Jefferson County has a long history of manufacturing steel, and the city of Birmingham was once among the country’s leading iron and steel producers. The product is so engrained into the area’s identity that it has manifested culturally in nicknames such as “the Steel City,” and the name of the state’s largest football rivalry, the Iron Bowl. However, more cost-effective alternatives from overseas have rendered the domestic market obsolete.
“Unfair trade practices from foreign countries hinder on our national economy but also our local economy,” Bryant said. “In Jefferson County, we have seen firsthand how the steel industry’s decline has had an impact on local jobs and our community. Neither Jefferson County nor the state of Alabama can afford these types of closures and lays off. It is detrimental to Americans and the condition of our economy.”
Currently, the Commerce Department is investigating the negative economic effects of foreign steel imports as allowed Under Section 232 of the of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The investigation will lead to new policy recommendations from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.