NEW YORK The
U.S. steel industry should take a more proactive approach to
unfair trade by blocking injurious imports before they hit U.S.
shores, Nucor Corp. president and chief executive officer John
Ferriola said in an interview.
"Our government needs
to be proactive instead of reactive on trade laws. We need the
government to recognize the damage and the potential damage
that can be done to our industry if they dont take
action," Ferriola told AMM.
trade rules and timelines, by the time anti-dumping or
countervailing duties are imposed on dumped and subsidized
products the U.S. industry may have already experienced
irreparable harm, Ferriola said.
"We need to be in a
situation in Washington where as we see the damage coming, the
government takes action. They (should) not wait until injury
occurs, which is the way it works today," he said.
Creating new avenues
at the International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop unfair
trade practices before they hurt U.S. businesses should be an
industry priority, Ferriola said. "I liken this to the
difference between having a stoplight at an intersection and a
walk/dont walk sign, so that we dont have people
creamed by trucks, as opposed to making sure we have the best
damn ambulance so after that person gets creamed by the truck
were there to clean up the mess."
For example, the U.S.
Commerce Department currently collects import license data on
steel approved to be brought into the United Statesdata
that indicates several weeks ahead of time how much foreign
product will arrive in the United States, Ferriola said.
Domestic steel producers might be able to prevent injury by
using that licensing data to serve as an indicator and stop a
flood of material before it hits U.S. shores rather than
waiting until after it arrives to take action.
"They have this
wonderful proactive device in place called import licensing.
... So they can tell us when the tsunami is about to hit. That
means they know it, but it doesnt mean they do anything
about it," Ferriola said. "So you go to them and you say
Wait a second, look at the license information coming out
of Korea, look at the pattern, you know whats
happening. Yes, John, we know whats
happening. You know whats going to happen
when it hits. Yes, John, we know whats going
to happen when it hits. Well do something.
Nope. Our laws are such that we cant do something
until injury has occurred."
Steel industry leaders
have been increasingly involved in congressional hearings and
ITC reviews, Ferriola said, with more participation at industry
meetings in Washington than ever before. Five executives,
including Ferriola, attended an ITC sunset review in April of
concrete reinforcing steel bar from China and several East
European countries, and six chief executive officers recently
testified before the Steel Caucus, he said.
While change has been
slow, Ferriola said it appears that Washington is beginning to
understand the problem. "The industry has become more
frustrated (and) our government leaders are becoming more
frustrated. Theyre beginning to understand the games that
are being played and the damage thats being done to our
industry," he said.
However, any real
change will depend on strong leadership from the steelmakers
themselves, including Nucor, Ferriola said. "When I talk about
industry leadership, it means not sitting on the sidelines and
saying Gee, I hope the government figures out what to
do. It means making our voice heard in Washington."