Steel layoffs highlight trade talks

International steel trade was a big item in the news Wednesday.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported more than 80,000 jobs were lost in the steel industries of Western industrialized countries last year - and more are likely to disappear this year as production continues to fall.

The European Community made a last-ditch offer to solve a dispute over Europe's steel exports to the United States. With a July 24 legal deadline, the Community abandoned its efforts to persuade the US to drop hefty import duties on European steel in return for overall curbs on European sales to the American market. Instead, the 10-nation group wants to negotiate a series of bilateral deals between the US and the European nations worst hit by the duties. Details of the new negotiating stance are expected to be settled at a meeting of senior officials in Brussels today (July 22).

In San Francisco, Mitsui U.S.A., a subsidiary of Japan's largest steelmaker, was fined $210,000 and ordered to pay $11 million in civil penalties after pleading guilty to conspiring to make false statements about prices of steel imported into the United States. The penalties were imposed by US District Court Judge Marilyn Patel. Mitsui and three Japanese businessmen had been accused of conspiring to import steel at what was considered unfair low prices that could hurt US companies.

Steelworkers in Aliquippa, Pa., touched by the plight of furloughed fellow workers began giving up a bite of their paychecks Wednesday so the unemployed could shop for food alongside them in supermarkets. Other United Steelworkers union locals in the US have set up food banks to aid the unemployed, but Local 1211 at the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation's Aliquippa plant was believed to be the first where working members agreed to have part of their pay deducted. In its steel-market survey, the OECD said world output was down almost 11 million metric tons, or 1.5 percent, in 1981 from the previous year. The industry is suffering from a downturn in demand due to the recession.

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