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Steel CEOs demand 'immediate' 232 action

Feb 01, 2018 | 07:15 PM | Michael Cowden


CHICAGO — Top executives of more than two dozen steel interests in the United States want President Donald Trump to take “immediate” action in his administration’s Section 232 investigation into foreign steel.

Imports - not only from China, whose overcapacity has long been lambasted by US mills, but also those from Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Turkey and Japan - are allegedly harming the prospects of domestic mills, the 25 steel industry leaders said in a letter to the president dated Thursday February 1.

Signatories of the letter include Nucor president and chief executive officer John Ferriola and U.S. Steel president and CEO David Burritt, the leaders of two of the biggest steelmakers in the US; as well as Lourenco Goncalves, president and CEO of Cleveland-Cliffs, the largest merchant iron ore miner in the country.

The companies whose executives signed the letter employ more than 75,000 workers combined. 

The US mills' CEOs want to see a “comprehensive and broad”-based 232 remedy that targets “the full range of steel products, with only limited exceptions for products not currently made in the United States.” They also want the 232 to be of “sufficient duration” to allow US mills to invest in their operations.

“Now is the time for presidential action to prevent excess steel capacity and surging steel imports from undermining our national security and the viability of the US steel industry,” the executives said in the letter.

The Commerce Department brought the Section 232 petition versus steel imports - another petition is pending versus aluminum - in April of last year. Trump has until mid-April to act on recommendations made by Commerce last month. Those findings have not been made public. But the 232 has been previously rumored to include a mix of tariffs and quotas intended to stymie imports.

The call to protect the industry from import competition comes despite prices for some products being at their highest point in more than six years.

American Metal Market’s hot-rolled coil index currently stands at $36.35 per hundredweight ($727 per ton), up 1.6% from $35.79 per cwt a week ago and up 15.4% from $31.50 per cwt a year ago. Hot-rolled coil prices have not been above $36 per cwt since reaching $36.75 per cwt in February 2012.

Michael Cowden
mcowden@amm.com