Lukens Steel Co. filed a dumping complaint yesterday against Japan Steel Works, heating up the dispute between American steel makers and their lower-cost foreign counterparts.
Lukens accused the Japanese company of selling steel clad plate about 14 percent less than fair market value for three large petrochemical products in Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Steel clad is stainless steel bonded to a thicker layer of less expensive carbon or low-alloy steel. It is used in petroleum refinery and petrochemical vessels.
Steel clad is a small portion of the steel produced here and is not included among the carbon-steel prodducts of large steel firms that fall under the trigger-price mechanism. Larger steelmakers such as U.S. Steel Corp. and Bethlehem Steel have been disturbed by the increase in steel imports, particularly during August when imports rose 62 percent over the same amount the previous August.
Steel industry sources, however, said the Lukens complaint was unrelated to general distress in the industry over carbon-steel imports. Lukens said it had asked the Commerce Department last June to have clad steel included under the protection of the trigger-price mechanism, but no action has been taken.
W. R. Wilson, Lukens president, said that clad imports are part of a larger problem of steel imports and that Japanese steel maker have initiated an assault on the total steelplate market, most of which is covered under the trigger-price mechanism.
Wilson said the trigger prices weren't working for steel plate and that the Commerce Department should add European Commons Market steel makers to its current investigation of Rumanian plate exports.
"Japan Steel Works has already caused us to loose substantial sales primarily at oil refinery and chemical plant projects," Wilson said. "If Japan Steel Works is successful in forcing the few American producers out of the clad business, the likelihood is that bargain-basement prices will be traded in for premium price tags."