WASHINGTON — Steelmaking executives in the United States decried the one-month delay in the expiration of Section 232 tariff exemptions, with one in particular urging that quotas be assigned on a retroactive basis to make up for this.
During a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday May 1, corporate leaders from four of the nation's largest steel companies discussed their support for President Donald Trump's efforts to thwart imports and find ways to rein in the overcapacity conundrum in China. They were generally disappointed, though, that some tariff exemptions due to expire on Tuesday were extended until at least June 1.
"We're seeing that countries that have been dumping into our country have another opportunity to get steel into our country," Nucor chairman, chief executive officer and president John Ferriola said.
Multiple nations will probably negotiate long-term exemptions from the tariffs and instead agree to quotas, AK Steel CEO Roger Newport noted.
The one-month delay underscores the need to assign an early start date to the quotas. South Korea, for example, already has agreed to quotas and market participants have hungered for an answer on whether those quota volumes will be counted from January 1 or some present or future date.
"The retroactivity will address the issue of it being delayed," Newport said.
Tuesday's press briefing was part of a joint conference involving the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association.
In the end, the steel executive said they are willing to be flexible and accept a combination of remedies that would ultimately boost the domestic industry's capacity utilization rate to 80%.
AISI president and CEO Thomas Gibson said steel mill utilization is about 76% thus far in 2018, up from 74% in 2017. Imports represented 27% of the nation's finished steel needs in 2017, up from 25% in 2016.
Mark Millett, president and CEO of Steel Dynamics Inc, would prefer that imports be at a level in line with the more traditional 21-22%, he said.