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Obama, Romney divergent on metals issues

Keywords: Tags  Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, manufacturing, metals, trade, automakers, Chrysler, general motors Keystone XL

NEW YORK — With just days to go before the presidential election, the stakes are higher than ever as both candidates reach out to voters in their last-ditch efforts to obtain victory. AMM takes a closer look at the track records of President Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney on issues pertaining to the metals and manufacturing industry.



• During his State of the Union speech in January, Obama announced the creation of a new trade enforcement unit intended to crack down on unfair trade (, Jan. 25). Critics on Capitol Hill, however, say that the group has been slow to take off.

• A large number of trade cases have been won at the World Trade Organization during the Obama administration, including China's export restrictions on a number of raw materials and a case on grain-oriented electrical steel. Other cases are still pending, including a complaint against Chinese duties on U.S. auto exports.

• The White House has said Obama has been successful in putting pressure on China to increase the value of its currency, with the yuan moving up some 11 percent since Obama took office. 


• Romney has said he will declare China a currency manipulator “on Day One” if he is elected, seeking to end what he and other Republicans have said is an imbalance in trade partially caused by China’s artificial currency readjustments.

• The former Massachusetts governor has said he would reinstate the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which gives the president greater authority to quickly negotiate international trade agreements and allow Congress only to disapprove or approve a trade proposal, not amend or filibuster it. TPA was last active under President Bush between 2002 and 2007.



• Last month, the Obama administration announced $20 million in awards aimed at supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs (, Oct. 11). This past summer, it also announced the launch of a new public-private institution in Ohio to boost manufacturing innovations (, Aug. 16).

• The White House has said its $80-billion, taxpayer-funded bailout of major automakers Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co. in 2009 rescued the U.S. auto industry—a sector steelmakers have said is now a bright spot in the economy (, June 3).


• During Romney’s tenure as head of private equity firm Bain Capital LLC, the company invested in Georgetown, S.C.-based steelmaker GS Industries Inc., the former parent of Georgetown Steel, in the 1990s. The company, however, eventually declared bankruptcy (, Jan. 19).

• Romney has presented himself as a major proponent of manufacturing jobs, and recent campaign ads tout Bain’s initial investment in Steel Dynamics Inc., which his campaign said has made the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based company one of the nation’s largest steelmakers.

• Romney has accused Obama of allowing manufacturing jobs to leave the United States. His campaign recently claimed that Obama’s bailout of the auto industry is pushing Chrysler and GM to move manufacturing jobs to China.



• Some have criticized Obama’s refusal to grant approval to TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Obama rejected the project, saying it was not in the national interest (, Jan. 18).

• Earlier this year, Obama proposed rules that would require companies to publicly disclose what chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—operations on federal land, an effort to move forward with shale gas development while ensuring public safety (, May 4). Steel interests have said overregulation in fracking could be an obstacle to affordable energy costs.

• Obama’s campaign has said the president has brought domestic natural gas production to an all-time high and oil production to its highest levels in 14 years.


• Romney has been one of the strongest critics of Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL, claiming that he will move the project forward once he takes office. The pipeline project would be expected to create some 20,000 new jobs and boost U.S. pipe makers (, Dec. 2, 2011).

• Romney has said he would rapidly expand natural gas and oil drilling in the United States, partly by empowering states to oversee energy development and production on federal lands (, Aug. 27).

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