WV Tin Plant Closing As Rusted-Out Administration Refuses To Use Tariffs To Level the Playing Field

Fahroni / shutterstock.com
Fahroni / shutterstock.com

On February 15th, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. quietly issued one of the worst notices a company can issue for a manufacturing plant. As the Department of Commerce refused to impose tariffs on the subsidized dirt-cheap tin coming out of Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea, the company is now forced to moth-ball their Weirton, WV tin plant. Employing 900 people in a city with just 20k people, this company is a significant source of revenue and jobs for the local economy.

Announced hot on the heels of the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) — made up of four commissioners: Republican David Johanson, Democrat Rhonda Schmidtlein, Democrat Jason Kearns, and Democrat Amy Karpel deciding not to allow the Commerce Department to impose tariffs on the nations, there was little the company could do. Playing against companies that receive major subsidies from their home governments, they could price bulk tin for a sharply lower rate. For companies who purchased tin from Cleveland-Cliffs, it made financial sense to go with a foreign manufacturer.

CEO Lourenco Goncalves gave a statement about the announcement, and he rightfully proclaimed the government is squarely to blame.

“In what was our final effort to maintain tinplate production here in America, we proved that we are forced to operate on an uneven playing field and that the deck was stacked in favor of the importers. Despite the Department of Commerce finding evidence of dumping and subsidization from respondent countries, the ITC shockingly ruled against imposition of tariffs, keeping the uneven playing field in place and making it impossible for us to viably produce tinplate… To the tin can makers and consumer groups who irrationally fought against American jobs and a domestic-based food supply chain, this outcome is due to your own greed.”

First raising the issues with foreign tin in January 2023, Cleveland-Cliffs and United Steelworkers (USW) asked for an investigation into the dirt-cheap bulk tin being dumped into the American markets. They knew that it was being dumped on the market and making American companies too expensive as these foreign companies could easily justify under-pricing their tin.

USW Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis spelled it out perfectly when talking with Fox News about this criminal action. “This is a total travesty. It’s totally un-American to me. It’s one of the most un-American decisions that has ever been made that’s going to jeopardize the food industry in this country. It’s going to be a national security issue.”