February 29, 2012

Gillibrand to Feds: Protect Niagara Falls Manufacturer – Reject Specialty Metal Production License Applications that Would Give Unfair Advantage to Foreign Imports, Undermine WNY Economy

Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) Manufacturing Licenses Would Provide Preferential Customs Treatment to Foreign Silicon Metal Imports, Force Domestic Producers to Compete in Unfair Market

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today called on the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to support domestic manufacturers of specialty metals by rejecting production license applications that would give preferential treatment to foreign producers of silicon metal. If granted, the licenses would benefit companies in other countries like Russia and China and could cripple Globe Specialty Metals, Inc. in Niagara Falls, resulting in the loss of approximately 100 jobs and millions of dollars in investments. 

“In these tough economic times, protecting domestic manufacturers should be our highest priority,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Globe Specialty Metals is a major economic driver in Niagara Falls and Western New York and DOC should do everything they can to support them as part of their mission to keep American businesses innovative at home and competitive abroad.” 

“We know from experience what happens to domestic plants and their workers when imports displace domestic silicon metal production,” said Niagara Falls Mayor, Paul A. Dyster. “The government should not provide an incentive for a wholesale shift to foreign sourcing which would jeopardize American jobs and industry. This would result in a tremendous setback for both Globe Specialty Metals and the Niagara Falls community.” 

In her letter to Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary of the Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Senator Gillibrand urged DOC to reject three pending FTZ manufacturing subzone applications that are currently before the board for approval. She asked that that FTZ Board consider the negative impact these subzones would have on the Western New York economy and local jobs. 

Globe Specialty Metals, Inc. is among the world’s largest producers of silicon metal and silicon-based alloys which are critical ingredients in a number of industrial and consumer products. They currently operate two furnaces at the Niagara Plant. In 2003, the company was forced to halt its Niagara operations as a result of dumped silicon metal imports from Russia. In 2009, after antidumping regulations were imposed, the plant reopened, now as one of the largest U.S. producer of silicon metal.  The company has invested nearly $40 million to refurbish, update and restart operations, and has made a commitment to growing the local economy in Niagara Falls and Western New York. 

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s Letter to DOC is below: 

Dear Mr. McGilvray,

 

I write to express concern about three pending Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) manufacturing subzone applications (Docket Nos. 60-, 61-, 62-2011; Foreign-Trade Zones 140 and 78) that are currently before the FTZ Board for approval. Licensing these subzones could be detrimental to Western New York economy by offering preferential access to silicon metal imports from foreign companies, adversely affecting the 100 jobs and overall operations at Globe Specialty Metals in Niagara Falls.

 

In 2003, Globe Specialty Metals was forced to close its doors as a result of dumped silicon metal imports from Russia. In 2009, after antidumping regulations were imposed, the plant reopened, now as one of the largest U.S. producer of silicon metal.  The company has invested nearly $40 million to refurbish, update and restart operations, and has made a commitment to growing the local economy in Niagara Falls and Western New York.

 

Allowing preferential access to silicon metal imports from countries like China and Russia while undermining operations here in the United States is clearly contradictory to the Department of Commerce’s mission of helping make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad. The approval of these applications will essentially create an unlevel playing field, forcing U.S. suppliers like Globe Specialty Metals to compete with unfairly priced markets like those in China and Russia, who already benefit from loose regulatory environments and state-sponsored subsidies.

 

I urge the FTZ Board to consider the negative impact that these subzones would have on the Western New York economy and local jobs. If you have any questions, or desire further information, please contact my staff member Melissa Fratello at (716)854-9725.