July 5, 2017
 
At SSS, the Free vs. Fair Trade Battle Rages on

The theme of the first panel at last week's Steel Survival Strategies XXXII meeting in New York was International – Going Toe to Toe. Antonio Marcegaglia and Leo Gerard didn’t take AMM and Steel Business Briefing literally, but they did their best to follow the directions.

Marcegaglia, the chairman and CEO of the Italian steelmaker which bears his name, offered a clinical defense of free steel trade. Gerard, the president of the United Steelworkers International, countered with a passionate argument that when it comes to steel, there is no such thing as free trade.

While acknowledging some of China’s outsized impact, and questionable practices, Marcegaglia questioned the ongoing Section 232 national defense claims made in the U.S. He predicted a similar response from European leaders, opening the doors to a trade war.

Marcegaglia said steel producers pay lip service to the idea of free but fair trade, “but protectionism is growing and accelerating.” As an example, he points to his company facing U.S. duties on products Marcegaglia has never shipped. He also noted that, despite the ongoing conversation, global imports of steel are a significantly lower percentage of the market than they were a decade ago.

Finally, he said that protectionist measures do nothing to spur demand or profitability, as U.S. consumption and margins are at lower levels than other developed countries, while leading to more indirect imports of goods. “Truly unfair subsidized competition needs to be fought aggressively, but we cannot look at the short-term interest of the few and forget about the big picture,” he said.

Gerard, who followed him to the podium, had a much different take. “Free trade doesn’t exist. It’s a term that’s misguided and misinformed. All trade is regulated; it’s on whose behalf it will be regulated, and under whose system.”

He described the Chinese approach to steel production over the decade a “legacy of broken promises.” After producing 577 million tons of steel in 2009, China promised to cut production to 480 million tons the following year, only to see it increase to 630 million. That pattern repeated itself year after year, to the current point where China’s overcapacity accounts for 75 percent of the world’s excess steelmaking capabilities.

Gerard pointed to the U.S. steel industry’s trade case filing record as evidence that the current conditions aren’t level. “Since 2012, we’ve filed 86 cases and we won 81. The reason we win is because people aren’t playing by the rules.”

And he fully supports the 232 investigation. “If we can’t make electrical steel, what do we do with transformers? If dozens of bridges can’t be used by transport trucks, if our water treatment facilities are in despair, what do we do? We’re pushing this administration to look at 232 in the broadest way possible.”


September 2017: Numbers Don’t Add Up for Service Centers
More...
 
Pause
September 2017: Lichtenstein: Five Steel Truths that Demand Attention
More...
Fall 2016: Cutting & Sawing Equipment
More...
Summer 2017
More...
 
Pause
Advanced Controls on Braner Slitters
More...
AHVS Precision Leveler Features Flip-Top Design
More...
Formtek’s Tishken Slitter Increases Production Volume
More...
Red Bud System Handles High-Strength Steels
More...
Bradbury Launches Flat Trak CL Monitoring System
More...
Artus Knives Custom Designed
More...
 
Pause
Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright by Metal Center News



Saturday, October 21, 2017