US steel factories are set to add 1,500 jobs since President Donald Trump signed proclamations authorizing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports last Thursday, even as the prospect of trade wars with the European Union and China loom in the near future.
Steel and Aluminum Import Tariffs
President Trump on March 8 authorized the imposition of 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum imports. NAFTA trading partners Canada and Mexico will be exempted from the tariffs, and the US will allow other allies to petition for similar exemptions.
So far, United States Steel Corp. has announced approximately 500 jobs in Granite City, Illinois and Republic Steel plans to bring back over 1,000 jobs in Lorain, Ohio.
Supporters say these new jobs prove that the tariffs will lay the groundwork for a stronger economy and industrial base, while opponents say these jobs are short-term gains which will be far overshadowed by the long-term hardships likely to be caused by trade wars.
President Trump on March 8 authorized the imposition of 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum imports.
Overly broad country exemptions and product exclusions could undermine the goal of the tariffs, according to an Alliance for American Manufacturing letter sent to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this Thursday.
“Country exemptions should be extremely limited and conditional, and subject to regular and thorough review,” said Scott Paul, AAM President. “The goal of this trade action must secure America, cut global overcapacity, and increase domestic steel jobs.
“President Trump has the world’s attention with these tariffs, and he should ensure that no one gets a blank check on steel imports.”
Meanwhile, critics of the measure including Associated General Contractors of America said many of their members have been told by their steel providers that their prices will be increasing significantly, effective immediately, because of the tariffs.
“Many of these firms are in fixed-priced contracts so will be stuck with having to absorb the cost increases,” said AGC spokesman Brian Turmail.
“It is always great to see American firms expanding, but we continue to believe that the best way to help grow U.S. steel and aluminum production is by boosting investments in infrastructure that will help our economy expand while increase demand for steel and aluminum products,” Turmail said.
“The tariffs may provide short term help, but the broader economic damage they are likely to prompt (particularly through a trade war) is likely to dampen demand for steel and aluminum products.”
The United States Steel Corporation last week announced it will restart one of two blast furnaces and the steelmaking facilities at its steelmaking plant in Granite City.
“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” President and CEO David B. Burritt has said.
The company is calling back roughly 500 employees, with many starting this week, said Dan Simmons, United Steelworkers Local 1899 President.
The blast furnaces and steelmaking facilities were idled in December 2015 and January 2016 due to market conditions, including global excess steel capacity and unfairly traded imports, the company said. The restart process could take up to four months.
“Even though the facility won’t be ready for 3 months, employees are being called back now, they are going through physical, re-training, attending job fairs, etc.,” Simmons said. “Salaries are at the same level as the round of bargaining.”
Similarly, Republic Steel – the nation’s leading provider of special bar quality steel – plans to restart its Lorain facility, including its idled electric arc furnace, casters and rolling mills, bringing back 1,000 jobs.