Kentucky is flourishing under steel tariffs, says AISI CEO
After Nucor Corp. recently announced plans to invest $1.35B to build Kentucky steel mill, creating 400 jobs, the American Iron and Steel Institute has spoken out to say that the plans are an example of how the steel tariffs are working for Kentuckians.
In an op-ed published in Kentucky's Courier Journal, AISI CEO Thomas J. Gibson says that the American steel industry "directly and indirectly supports more than 2 million jobs."
The economic engine of iron and steel is responsible for nearly 40,000 jobs in Kentucky, paying a total of $2.5 billion in wages and salaries annually, while generating $11.3 billion in industry output and $1.1 billion in federal, state and local taxes.
However, dumped and subsidized steel imports have damaged the health of the industry, causing steel plants across the country to close and production of certain steel products to move offshore.
Gibson went on to say that he believes the steel industry still has a long way to recovery since President Trump inacted the tariffs last year, but, according to AISI's research, the health of the steel industry is already changing for good.
This necessary action has allowed the American steel industry to begin to recover. Capacity utilization at existing mills has increased in recent months to more than 80 percent — levels not seen in the last 10 years. Steel shipments were 5 percent higher in 2018 than 2017. Steel imports have decreased 50 percent since the steel tariffs took effect in April 2018 through December 2018. And the share of the steel market taken by imports has fallen from 29 percent last April to 19 percent in December.
The Section 232 trade remedy has also resulted in the reopening of some shuttered plants, the hiring back of laid-off workers and investments in new steel production facilities — like the recent announcement by Nucor Corporation to invest $1.35 billion to build a new plate mill along the Ohio River in Meade County, creating 400 jobs and expanding its mill near Ghent, creating 70 jobs.
There is still work to be done, Gibson writes, and the steel tariffs must remain in place in order for thta work to be accomplished.
There are nearly 500 million net tons of excess steel capacity in the world today. China’s record steel production exceeded 1 billion net tons in 2018 — more than 10 times all of the American steel production. This, along with China’s high level of steel exports, continues to destabilize the global industry and threaten American steelmakers. If the Section 232 tariffs were prematurely removed, this excess production could easily flood into the United States, injuring the steel industry once again.
The American Iron and Steel Institute exists to influence public policy, educate and shape public opinion in support of a strong, sustainable U.S. and North American steel industry committed to manufacturing products that meet society’s needs.