Steel execs see dynamism continuing in US industry

With incredibly strong demand and an agreeable tariff quota deal solidified between the US and European Union, American steel executives see good times continuing for the US industry well into 2022.

Although 2020 was quite the roller coaster ride, it did not stop the dynamism of the US steel industry, says American Iron and Steel Institute ceo Kevin Dempsey. He was speaking at a press conference held during the joint annual meetings of AISI and the Steel Manufacturers Association this week in Washington, DC.

The 232 steel tariffs imposed by the US in 2018 have worked as intended to stabilise the domestic industry and to protect the nation’s national security interests, Dempsey told Kallanish and other reporters.

A report from the Economic Policy Institute earlier this year revealed that American companies have invested upwards of $16 billion since the tariffs were put in place to upgrade and expand the industry. And since that report was released, Dempsey said another $6 billion in planned investments have been announced.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time when you see our companies spending billions of dollars,” says Mark Millett, president and ceo of Steel Dynamics and current chairman of the SMA.

“We’re happy that 232 stayed in place and allowed us to invest our money to improve our industry to produce steel in our country,” says Lourenco Goncalves, president and ceo of Cleveland-Cliffs.

When asked about the current price competitiveness of the domestic industry, Goncalves said: “[The] question implies that excessive prices are artificial. There are no excessive prices. There’s nothing artificial in the old laws of supply and demand.”

Steel prices in the US remain elevated when compared with the rest of the world, Kallanish notes.

“We’re in a cyclical business….It’s a supply-demand driven business, and we understand that,” says Leon Topalian, president and ceo of Nucor, noting that demand is incredibly robust at the moment and is expected to remain so well into next year. Topalian was also elected chairman of AISI in May.

“Yeah, prices are high, but we are investing those dollars. This is a good time for steel,” Millett adds.

Laura Miller USA