Canton Repository

April 26, 2001

Taft attempts to get support for steel makers 

Copley Washington correspondent

COLUMBUS — Gov. Bob Taft has appealed again to the federal government for action on steel, this time citing Republic Technologies’ bid for bankruptcy protection.

Taft sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on Wednesday asking him to conduct a formal investigation into whether steel imports have damaged U.S. steel makers. Since February, Taft has sent two letters to President Bush asking him to order a probe, called a Section 201 investigation, for its location in U.S. trade law.

Taft mentioned in the letter to Zoellick that Lorain-based Republic Technologies on April 2 “became the most recent Ohio steel maker to file for bankruptcy protection, putting almost 4,000 jobs at risk in
Canton and Lorain ... The workers, communities and customers who depend on Republic and Ohio’s other steel makers critically need the Bush administration to initiate a Section 201 investigation,” he said.

Republic is the latest of a handful of Ohio steel makers, including LTV Corp., to seek bankruptcy protection and blame unfair imports for their problems.

If a steel probe showed that U.S. steel companies were hurt by imports, Bush could order import curbs or other protection for American steel makers.

When Taft met with Zoellick in Washington in February, the trade representative told him he was looking into a possible Section 201 probe, Taft said. Since then, Zoellick has not provided any further information on a probe.

During a visit to Republic headquarters Wednesday, Taft told steel company employees that “strengthening the steel industry needs to be higher on our national agenda.”

The governor delivered a similar message to employees at Lorain Tubular Co., which makes seamless steel pipe for oil wells, gas transmission lines and storage facilities.