COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.
Enforcing U.S. trade policy and capitalizing on low-priced
natural gas will help U.S. steelmakers while offering broad
economic benefits, including job creation and manufacturing
growth, a number of steel executives said at an industry
conference May 16.
"Were nearly halfway
through 2013, and though the economy is recovering at a
moderate pace, there are still some challenges out there,"
Michael T. Rehwinkel, newly elected chairman of the American
Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and president and chief
executive officer of Chicago-based Evraz Inc. North America,
Rehwinkel identified those
challenges as a possible tax increase, high unemployment rates
and slowing growth in the manufacturing sector. "We need to
urge the U.S. government to be more proactive in regards to the
unfair trade that would cause harm to our recovery," he
Speaking at the AISIs
121st general meeting, co-hosted by the Metals Service Center
Institute, steel executives on Washington-based AISIs
board pointed out that the natural gas phenomenon will continue
to be a bright spot for the United States.
international competitiveness depends on our ability to
capitalize on shale resources. As an industry, we consume large
amounts of natural gas and benefit from the increased supply,"
Charles W. Schmitt, vice chairman of AISI and president of
Lisle, Ill.-based SSAB Americas, said.
However, one challenge lies in
the number of recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
regulations that have hurt, rather than helped,
The enforcement of trade laws
also remains an issue. Only by maintaining a strong trade
policy and removing foreign trade barriers can U.S. steelmakers
compete fairly against their global counterparts, Schmitt
"The current surge in steel
imports puts our ability to reap the benefits of our
job-creating investments at risk," according to John J.
Ferriola, a director at AISI, and president and chief executive
officer of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp.
Countries such as China, Egypt,
Brazil and India, as well as state-owned enterprises, have
imposed trade restrictions on a number of imported and exported
products, Ferriola said, noting that those restrictions distort
trade in raw materials and in finished products.
"While America is a free market,
many major steel-producing countries are not," he said. "The
fact is that U.S. steelmakers can successfully compete with
anyone in the world on a level playing field. But we cant
compete against governments."