AISI and SMA press conference addresses latest Section 232 news

Tuesday, 01 May 2018 22:11:04 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and the Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA) addressed the media Tuesday in a press conference, with topics ranging from the state of the steel industry, to steel imports and trade policy.

Participants in the press conference included Roger Newport, AISI chairman and CEO of AK Steel Corp.; Tracy Porter, SMA chairman and executive vice president and COO of Commercial Metals Company; John Ferriola, AISI vice-chairman, and chairman, CEO and president of Nucor Corp.; Mark Millet, SMA vice-chairman, and president and CEO of Steel Dynamics, Inc.; Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of AISI; and Philip K. Bell, president of SMA.

The main topic of discussion was last night’s one-month extension for countries temporarily exempted from Section 232 tariffs. Panelists expressed disappointment about the delay, although one noted positive is that the negotiation for quotas or tariffs will be retroactive, which will negate the “rush to beat the system” as negotiations continue.

One member of the press brought up Canada and Mexico and asked the panel if they should be permanently excluded from the tariffs, regardless of NAFTA renegotiations. While panelists agreed that NAFTA partners are not “national security” threats, John Ferriola noted that “national security is not just about military alliance. It is about military and trade. ‘Security threat’ should not just be measured in military, also economic. A sustainable economy and sustainable infrastructure require a sustainable domestic steel source.”

Ferriola also noted that “too much” Chinese steel is being circumvented to the US through Canada and Mexico, with Roger Newport adding that any resolution between NAFTA partners must address this.

Tracy Porter added, “We have been in an economic war situation for at least half of my career; 60-70 percent of steel entities around the world are state owned or state supported. These companies are not paying US taxes other than small stuff at entrance. Does not support the US worker, US economy. This will continue to diminish manufacturing base and can’t be ignored or we can become a third-world country in my kids’ lifetime.”

As for the immediate effects of the Section 232 tariffs, including higher domestic steel prices, the panelists said that customers “may need to adjust,” but the “economy is resilient.”

Overall, panelists contended that permanent trade action is needed to help the US steel industry get to 80 percent capacity utilization, or else the industry “cannote create opportunity.” The industry is not looking to eliminate imports, panelists said, just “normalize them and make them fair.”

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