Charlotte CEO calls on Trump to act quickly on steel tariffs

February 19, 2018

Nucor Corp. CEO John Ferriola welcomed a U.S. Department of Commerce recommendation Friday for steep steel import tariffs — possibly as high as 53% for a dozen specified countries, including China.

[John Downey |February 16, 2018 | Charlotte Observer]

“We are very encouraged by the recommendations (Commerce) Secretary (Wilbur) Ross has provided the President to deal with the ongoing problem of unfairly traded steel imports," Ferriola says in a written statement released Friday afternoon. 

He urged President Donald Trump “to move quickly to review these recommendations ... so that we can ensure our nation maintains a healthy and sustainable steel industry for its national defense and economic security.”

Ferriola has been among the metals manufacturers calling strongly for trade restrictions on foreign imports, contending China and other countries were unfairly dumping subsidized steel into U.S. markets.

“Illegally traded imports remained a very serious problem last year,” Ferriola said two weeks ago on Nucor’s earnings call. “Finished steel imports captured an estimated 27% share of the U.S. market.”

Nucor (NYSE: NUE) has been calling for import restrictions as a company for years before Ferriola became CEO in 2014. Former CEO Dan DiMicco was a longtime champion of action against subsidized steel sold in the United States. 

Three options

Ross recommended Trump consider tariffs or quotas, saying an investigation by his department “concludes that the present quantities and circumstance of steel imports are ‘weakening our internal economy’ and threaten to impair the national security.”

Commerce proposes three options:

  • a 24% tariff on all steel imports from all countries;
  • a tariff of 53% or more on steel imports from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam and limiting imports to all other countries to what they shipped to the U.S. last year; or
  • a quota for all countries of 63% of their 2017 exports to U.S

Ferriola says Nucor “stand(s) ready to assist the Administration in evaluating which recommendations will have the greatest impact in stopping the flow of unfairly traded imports.”

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