Steel and Aluminum Makers Restart Plants After Trump’s Tariff Announcement

March 8, 2018 Updated: March 8, 2018

American steel and aluminum makers are rebooting stalled plants and calling back hundreds of workers with the expectation that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs will soon be enacted.

United States Steel Corp. announced on Wednesday that it would fire up its blast furnace in Illinois and call back 500 workers, Wall Street Journal reported. Last week, Century Aluminum Co. said that it will restart smelting in Kentucky for the first time since 2015.

“Our Granite City Works facility and employees…have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” U.S. Steel Chief Executive David Burritt told the Journal.

United States Steel Corp. was forced to idle furnaces and lay off hundreds of workers after cheap imports flooded into the country and pushed down prices.

Trump said he plans to a impose broad tariffs, 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, though a final announcement is still pending. The president campaigned on a promise to bring back American jobs and put U.S. interests first when it comes to international trade.

Trump said early on Thursday morning that he will hold an afternoon meeting at the White House related to the tariffs.

“Looking forward to 3:30 P.M. meeting today at the White House. We have to protect & build our Steel and Aluminum Industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation toward those that are real friends and treat us fairly on both trade and the military,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s proposed tariffs closely match the recommendation in a report submitted to the president by the Department of Commerce on Feb. 16. The department recommended a 24 percent global tariff on steel and a 7.7 percent global tariff on aluminum.

The report found that the “quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports threaten to impair the national security.”

Steel and aluminum prices rose recently based on increased domestic demand and the president’s promise of broad tariffs, according to the Journal. As a result, several companies expanded U.S. production well before Trump’s announcement last week.

Alcoa Corp. intends to reopen part of an idle smelter in southern Indiana in the spring. Big River Steel sped up production last year at a sheet mill in Osceola, Arkansas.



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