By Jim Stavis
President Trump made a big splash last week putting the U.S. steel industry on the front page and center. For those of us in the steel industry, it seemed to be a bit too little too late. The American steel industry has been irrelevant on the world stage for quite some time. Our production is less than 5% of all steel manufactured in the world. China, of course, is the biggest producer, but as the President wanted to blame them for skewing up the market, that is only partially right. The fact is due to trade restrictions and market conditions, most steel being importing into the U.S. is not from China. Virtually every corner of the globe manufacturers and now exports steel and America is an almighty consumer.
The President’s comments were more for political affect than anything. Yes, the domestic steel industry is hurting, but it has been that way for quite a while now. Trump was just late to the party. Virtually every steel maker in the country now has some foreign ownership anyway. So much for the old red, white and blue.
I appreciate the concern the President has in protecting an industry that clearly needs help, but it’s too bad his motivation is in question. Maybe it’s part of his grand strategy to build a wall using domestic rather than foreign steel. Only time will tell.