Nexteel may shift Thai project to Houston upon Section 232 threat

2018.02.22 14:05:16 | 2018.02.22 15:04:03

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South Korean steel maker Nexteel Co. has decided to put on hold its planned project in Thailand after the country was included in the U.S. government’s blacklist for steel and aluminum import sanctions and is instead deliberating expansion in the United States.

The company said Wednesday it decided to halt its plan following the inclusion of Thailand along with Korea in the list of 12 countries subject to potential tariffs of minimum 53 percent.

The U.S. Department of Commerce last Friday proposed heavy tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports on the grounds that the imports were adversely impacting the country’s steel industry and “threatened to impair the national security” under the long-abandoned Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act.

It recommended three alternative remedies for President Donald Trump - a global tariff of at least 24 percent on all imports, a tariff of at least 53 percent on steel imports from 12 countries including South Korea and Thailand, or an import quota of up to 63 percent on all countries of their 2017 imports.

Trump has until April 11 to decide whether to give a go-ahead to sanctions.

Nexteel planned to build a 30 billion won ($27.7 million) steel plant in Houston, U.S. and a 10 billion won mill in Thailand with a goal to go operational by the year-end. If the killer duties are confirmed, the company plans to spend the budget for Thailand in the Houston project.

Founded in 1990, Nexteel specializes in the manufacturing of electric resistance welded steel pipes. Its oil country tubular goods - casing, tubing and drill pipes essential for oil and gas well drilling - are sold across the world. It owns production bases in the southeastern cities of Pohang and Gyeongju that are capable of producing 716,000 tons a year.

By Woo Je-yoon and Kim Hyo-jin

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