Steel News

U.S. Steel Production So Far Unaffected by Virus, Mills Say 

3/16/2020 - At least as of the end of last week, the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t yet impacted U.S. steel production, mill operators told S&P Global Platts.

According to Platts, steel producers are paying very close attention to developments and have contingency plans in place. But as of Friday, mills generally hadn’t seen disruptions. 

"We continue to monitor the situation and communicate that information regularly throughout our organization, including preventive tips," United States Steel Corporation told Platts. 

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., elected officials are discussing whether the Trump administration should lift tariffs, including the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, as a way to counter the economic impacts of the virus.

As The New York Times reported: “Supporters of lifting the tariffs, even temporarily, say it would be a simple and immediate way to help businesses and consumers struggling with higher costs from President Trump’s levies. But opponents warn the move could provide China with an economic advantage at a particularly sensitive moment.”

However, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that the Trump administration is not considering broad tariff relief, but “would likely consider some specific exemptions to aid small businesses hurt by the virus,” the Reuters news service reported. 

Philip K. Bell, president of the Steel Manufacturers Association, warned that now is not the time to consider lifting the tariffs. 

“Chinese steel production is at an all-time high.  In 2019, China produced a record 1.1 billion tons of steel. By comparison, the entire American steel industry produces about 100 million tons. A significant portion of this steel is being stockpiled, waiting to find its way to our shores with little regard to our trade laws,” he said. 

"The Steel Manufacturers Association understands the threat posed by the coronavirus. We support the efforts to deal with this public health crisis and its impact on our economy, but our current economic challenges do not warrant elimination of the 232 tariffs on steel."