Four North American injection press builders are injecting themselves into the debate over International Monetary Fund money for Asian nations — citing fears that low-priced imported presses could flood the North American market.
Cincinnati Milacron Inc., Engel North America, HPM Corp. and Van Dorn Demag Corp. — the four members of a group called North American Machinery Manufacturers — plan to lobby Congress and the Clinton administration and to work with other groups to push for changes to IMF funding practices.
NAMM also may propose emergency provisions to enforce World Trade Organization rules that protect industries against a sudden flood of imports that could damage those industries, he said.
The four companies assemble 85 percent of injection presses built in North America, according to NAMM's lawyer, Robert Branand of Washington.
Branand said a bill has passed the Senate, but is stalled in the House, that restricts the use of IMF funds to prop up failing industries.
The four firms face a double whammy, Branand said. Asia's wild fiscal ride, caused by plunging currencies, has allowed Asian press builders to reduce prices for their machines sold in North America. At the same time, as their domestic markets dry up, Asian suppliers are under increasing pressure to sell machines to the United States and Canada.
NAMM wants safeguards to cushion the impact of a surge in imports. The group also is encouraging Asian countries to stimulate internal demand for plastics machinery.
``We've found that there are large numbers of these machines sitting in warehouses over there, and we're afraid that someone's going to make a decision that they've got to get rid of them in a hurry, and we'll be the benefactors of that decision,'' Branand said.
According to a Plastics News story in March, Korean and Taiwanese firms had cut prices an average of 5-15 percent. Prices of Japanese-made injection presses also have gone down.
Harold Faig, vice president of worldwide machinery at Milacron, said: ``The U.S. represents the first, last, and only market for excess capacity created by the economic downturn in Asia.''
According to a recent story in Japan's Nikkei Weekly, Japan's exports of injection molding machines to North America soared 55 percent in 1997. Japanese press builders want to export even more this year, the newspaper said. Sales of presses to Southeast Asia, which used to consume 40 percent of total exports, have dried up, the news report said.