GRANITE CITY, IL — United States Steel announces that they will be calling back about 500 employees after last week’s announcement by President Trump. They’re restarting one of two blast furnaces at the steelmaking facilities at its Granite City Works.
“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,” writes U. S. Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David B. Burritt in a statement.
US Steel says that steel imports are a threat to national and economic security. Company leaders praise President Trump for beginning to level the playing field so companies can compete.
The restart process could take up to four months. The company anticipates calling back approximately 500 employees beginning this month.
Both Granite City Works blast furnaces and its steelmaking facilities were idled in December 2015. The plant’s hot strip mill was idled in January 2016 in response to challenging market conditions.
Big business has sent distress signals since President Trump decided to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Trump plans to impose a 25% tariff on foreign steel and a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum. It’s unclear whether certain countries will be exempt.
China has long been accused of flooding the global market with cheap steel at prices that are unfairly low by US standards. Previous US administrations have imposed a litany of trade barriers on Chinese steel, which only accounts for about 2% of US steel imports. But China continues to sell en masse elsewhere, which suppresses global prices.
Trump’s measure would also target US allies such as Canada, Mexico, South Korea and Brazil, all of which import more steel to the United States than China.
A 2003 report from the U.S. International Trade Commission found that the tariffs caused headaches for some businesses. Nearly half of companies told the ITC they had trouble getting the quantity or quality of steel they needed. Employment in steel-consuming industries, such as car companies, fell or stayed flat. About a third of these companies reported production delays.
Corporations’ profits rose, but companies cut back on investing in their operations — for example, buying new equipment — as they faced less foreign competition. Nearly 20% of companies said they passed higher prices on to consumers.
The World Trade Organization ruled the Bush steel tariffs illegal in November 2003. A month later, Bush removed them.