Law abiding

By Corinna Petry

March 2017 - The executives of American steel companies have been quizzed by equities analysts about what they hope to gain for the industry from the new administration.

Mario Longhi, president and CEO of U.S. Steel Corp., Pittsburgh, met with President Trump on his second day in office. “The current administration has very openly declared they’re going to do everything they can to make sure [international trade] rules are properly enforced. A lot more work needs to be done but this administration is saying all the right things and they are asking how can they better prepare themselves to make sure our laws are respected.”

Trump publicly declared he believes American steel should be the material going into pipeline projects that he supports  with presidential memorandums. 

“From what we have seen, the president is remaining true to his promises during the campaign and one of them is buy American and hire Americans,” Longhi told shareholders Feb. 1. “He wants to hear [our] recommendations.

“I imagine that when the full Cabinet is in place, the conversations will continue and it will all lead to action that can be very positive for manufacturing and certainly for the steel industry,” he said.

Jaime Vasquez, vice president-finance and CFO for AK Steel Corp., Middletown, Ohio, remarked that he was “very optimistic we’re going to have very strong trade policies—actions that will help enforce our laws … against countries that circumvent the rules. Ultimately,” he added, “we want to see products manufactured in the U.S. to supply those customers that are making stuff in the United States.”

Mark Millett, chairman and CEO of Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Indiana, noted that the domestic industry has benefited “dramatically” from successful trade litigation last year. The White House “can only sort of vulcanize that environment. The sensitivities, or the balance, is not getting into a trade war; hopefully we have some sensible people advising the new administration and we won’t get to that point.”

Like the other leaders, Millett believes “there will be vigorous enforcement of the anti-circumvention laws. Consider the whack-a-mole we saw last year with Vietnam—I think Vietnam ended with 800,000 tons of coated product coming in, which is huge volume. I think that [practice] will end positively.”

At Commercial Metals Co., Dallas, Chairman and CEO Joseph Alvarado, agrees. “Potential changes in the regulatory environment related to trade, taxes, infrastructure spending and other matters may bode well for the domestic steel industry.”

For an outlook on carbon steel and specialty metals made by these companies and others, click here > 

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