US steel trade policy priorities critical for fair markets, decarbonization

The US steel industry’s continued advocacy for its trade policy priorities is critical for promoting fair markets and decarbonization initiatives, Nucor CEO Leon Topalian said May 25.

Notably, Topalian said the domestic steel sector is pushing Congress to pass legislation that will help offset the impact of steel overcapacity in China and other countries, a major contributor to unfair trade and carbon emissions within the global industry.

“It is critical that we address the subsidies and other forms of market distorting policies and practices that have fueled massive global steel overcapacity and that are at the root cause of the import surges that have plagued this industry,” he said during an address at the annual joint meeting in Washington DC held by the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Steel Manufacturers Association.

The US House of Representatives has already passed its America COMPETES Act that includes provisions for addressing subsidies and overcapacity in China, but the Senate’s version of the legislation does not include those provisions, Topalian said.

“We must continue to urge members of Congress that are on the committee trying to hammer out the differences in the bills to include this important trade remedy legislation in the final compromise bill that goes to the president,” he added.

Topalian said the trade legislation, in tandem with ongoing anti-dumping and countervailing duty enforcement, can reduce imports of steel with higher carbon emission profiles.

“We’ve continued to raise awareness of the [US steel] industry’s leadership in combatting the global climate crisis, both in reducing emissions in our own steelmaking operations and in providing the solutions for a greener economy,” he said. “The United States has the lowest CO2 emissions per ton of steel produced. By contrast, Chinese steel production creates carbon emissions that are almost double those associated per ton of steel produced in the US.”

The establishment of a “strong and effective” carbon border adjustment mechanism would also ensure that “imported energy-intensive goods bear the same climate-related costs as US-made goods,” Topalian added.

Topalian said steel imports in 2021 accounted for nearly 13 million mt of additional CO2 emissions compared with the average emission levels associated with the same volume of steel produced in the US.

The US imported 28.58 million mt of steel products in 2021, up from 20.03 million mt in 2020, according to US Department of Commerce data.

— Nick Lazzaro